Claudia Alvarez needed a hobby; just something to fill her free time. In May of 2015, she found horse racing.
Already a University of Arizona graduate with a degree in visual communications, horse racing brought her back to UA to join the Race Track Industry Program (RTIP) to pursue a second degree and a career in her new-found hobby-turned-passion. Although she had a lifelong affection for horses, working in the racing industry was never on her radar. Now she is fascinated with barn management, handling of weanlings, prepping yearlings and overall horse welfare.
To supplement her RTIP classroom and hands-on equine courses, Alvarez has had the opportunity to work at Rillito Park the past two winter meets as part of the PariBet Racetrack Industry Student Experience (PRISE). While most of the students that work at the track are encouraged to change departments each year, Alvarez was requested by track officials to return in her role of timing official and photo-finish equipment operator. This position also allowed Alvarez to observe and listen to the stewards review, debate and adjudicate decisions made during the races. “
“Getting to work closely with Stewards Greg Stiles, Dr. Scott Waterman, Victor Escobar and Magdaleno Perez was very eye opening. To me regulating the sport means to maintain an integrity and to preserve a horse racing heritage for generations to come,” said Alvarez.
Trying to stay true to his rule of job switching for the students, Rillito Park General Manager Mike Weiss found an additional role for Alvarez between races as paddock show co-host.
“Mike has been mentor of mine, and is always encouraging me to explore different facets of racetrack operations and develop professional skills with hands on experience,” said Alvarez.
Although never a hardcore handicapper, Alvarez excelled with both her picks and her on-air presence. She also added a nice touch by giving her picks first in English, then repeating them in Spanish. The largely Hispanic crowds appreciated the gesture to acknowledge Rillito's heritage.
Upon graduation, Alvarez is planning to go into racing regulation. And with the foundation of classroom and real-world experience she is building, that hobby of hers will give her a lifetime of happiness.
PariBet LLC, an advanced deposit wagering service, is again partnering with Rillito Park Racetrack to sponsor students in the University of Arizona's Race Track Industry Program to work in various positions at the track during its 2018 winter season. In turn, the students contribute a wealth of enthusiasm and expertise to the meet.
To learn more about the Race Track Industry Program, visit ua-rtip.org.
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