This is part of a series profiling participants of the PariBet Racetrack Industry Student Experience, a program that allows Race Track Industry Program students the chance to work in paid positions in key roles at Rillito Park.
Joe Longo may be spending his second year in Tucson as a graduate student in the University of Arizona's Race Track Industry Program, but his heart and his love for horse racing are firmly entrenched in his home state of New Jersey.
“My uncles were horrible babysitters,” said Longo. “Two things they loved in life were a cold beer and a 3/5 shot, so they dragged me to Meadowlands Racetrack in the winter and Monmouth Park in the summer. I never had a choice!”
Yet, Longo took some time to figure out that he wanted to make a career in the racing industry. An accounting degree from Rutgers University and a MBA degree in finance from Rider University led to 11 years of working in public and private accounting. At age 33, Longo decided to pursue his dream, and he trekked to Arizona to attend the RTIP. Upon arriving in Pima County, he discovered Rillito Park.
Longo spent his first season at Rillito as the chief financial officer, where he handled the financial matters of all business segments at the track. This year, he is working as the simulcast manager and is responsible for all contracts as well as negotiations with the HBPA and state racing commission.
When asked about the Rillito experience and being sponsored by PRISE, Longo said, “Working at a smaller track has allowed me to implement changes that were literally made overnight and see the results the very next day. Rillito will always hold a place in my heart as the “Great Race Space” and the site of my first job within the industry. The enthusiasm shared by the students, management, and fans alike is unrivaled.”
Like many, Longo has been enthralled by the unique atmosphere at Tucson's historic bullring oval. “What Rillito lacks in size, it makes up for in atmosphere. I doubt there are many places where the entire grandstand is cheering on a 1/5 shot clear by ten [lengths] in the stretch.”
Longo is set to graduate from the RTIP in May, and he has lofty goals for his future. He aims to become the general manager or CEO of a racetrack or racing organization, and he believes that his business background as well as his understanding of the horseplayers' needs will make him especially suited to the task.
“I truly care about this industry, and I hope that when I am done with my career that I will have left it in a better place than when I first entered it.”
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