New York-bred Alex Sausville is attending the Race Track Industry Program in search of a second degree. Alex, a former collegiate basketball player, has already earned a degree in marketing from St. John Fisher College in Rochester, NY.
Sausville hit the ground running as soon as he arrived in Tucson. He created and produces the Off The Turf podcast, in which he interviews other students about topical issues in the racing industry. Alex put his marketing knowledge to good use during his PRISE internship, setting up Rillito Park's dachshund race, The Wild Weenie Run.
Alex's interests away from school do not stray far from the race track. In fact, his interests away from school lead him towards race tracks. With the goal of visiting every race track in the country, Alex has already visited over 70 current and former racing venues.
Growing up, what was your involvement and interest in horse racing?
I grew up as a racing fan with no real connections to the industry. However, my dad always had the OTB Channel on in our house. As I got older I continued to follow racing and planned a trip to see several race tracks throughout Florida (the Old Tropical Park, Hialeah, Tampa Bay Downs and many others). I also stopped at Gulfstream Park and was fortunate enough to meet Ron Nicoletti, who then introduced me to track announcer Pete Aiello. It was talking with Aiello about how much he loved the Race Track Industry Program that brought me to Tucson to be a member of the RTIP.
What's the most important thing you've learned through your classes and job experiences?
I love learning about all of the different aspects of the industry and seeing them all come together. I have always believed that to be an advocate for the sport of horse racing, you must experience everything that the industry has to offer. By being a member of the RTIP I feel I have substantially progressed in that aspect.
What kind of work have you done at Rillito Race Track?
I am the on-air handicapper, and have created several promotions throughout this year's race meet. From planning and running Wiener Dog Races to having a young fan call riders up on TV for our feature race.
Did you have a favorite horse or horse racing moment growing up that has stuck with you?
In high school, a trip to the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland led to a stop at Beulah Park on the way home. Beulah was in its final days of racing and the venue was unlike anything I had ever seen. Beulah was almost empty on a live racing day and the facility was let go due to its inevitable closure. It was that day at Beulah Park that made me want to visit every racetrack in the country, and as many as I can throughout the world. So far that journey that has taken me to 40 live racetracks and over 30 “quieted” venues (racetracks that no longer hold races).
What do you consider the most important problem facing the racing industry? How would you go about solving it?
Racing's public image. I see that there are certain stigmas that go with racing through its connection to gambling and the horses themselves. I think that it would be very influential going forward to help create relationships between people and horses at a very young age. Also, when people are nearing the legal gambling age to teach them about responsible gambling. With the gambling industry so widespread, a majority of people will be exposed to it at some point in their lives. Teaching people how to gamble responsibly can create more long-term horseplayers and limit the stigma that all gambling is bad.
What's an example of something you think is being done right within the industry? Why?
I truly believe that there are so many people in this industry who love what they do and do a fantastic job of representing horse racing. More people outside of the industry need to see what these people are doing to continuously improve the industry and care for our athletes. From starting in this program, I have witnessed so many incredible things and met so many incredible people in the industry and I hope to ensure that their efforts do not go unnoticed.
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