Jayson Campbell is a real cowboy. And he wears his nickname of “Cowboy” with pride.
The Safford, Ariz., native has been on the back of a horse most of his life and has competed in events from rodeo to jumping. So, it was no surprise that he jumped at the opportunity to be a morning outrider during Rillito Park's 2018 winter meet. Campbell is a junior in the University of Arizona Race Track Industry Program (RTIP) and worked at Rillito Park as part of the PariBet Racetrack Industry Student Experience.
“Basic horsemanship puts you in a position to go a long way on the track,” said Campbell. “It was really fun to get some experience doing something new; and getting another license never hurts. I galloped and ponied during the mornings that I wasn't outriding. I also ponied during the races for Monica Ortega. Mike [Weiss, Rillito Park general manager] has always been great to us, finding ways for us to help out and being there anytime we might need anything.”
Campbell's experience in the RTIP has laid the foundation for getting involved in racing.
“The RTIP really helped to get my foot in the door at the track,” Campbell said, “and the knowledge gained in the classroom, along with some great guest lecturers gives me a lot of information and the ability to see things from perspectives that most people don't get to experience. I want to see as much of the business as possible before I start training, and the program is allowing me to do that.”
Training is the job Campbell has wanted since an early age. His grandparents have been involved in Quarter Horse racing for decades.
Campbell also worked as a groom for Ortega during the 2017 meet and spent his summer in Albuquerque learning to gallop horses in the morning.
“Those experiences gave me a solid introduction to the racetrack. Monica taught me a lot about the way people work on the backstretch. This year was a great next step,” said Campbell, “Nearly a year later, I'm still figuring it out.”
The upcoming summer has more adventures awaiting Campbell.
“I'm planning on going to work for a steeplechase trainer for a few weeks,” he said.
And to cap off a whirlwind 12 months, “Then I'm getting married and going to work at Wyoming Downs for the rest of the summer!”
It's a good thing his fiancé, Emily Jacques, shares Jayson's love of horses. After graduating from the RTIP next year, Campbell will undoubtedly be found at a racetrack chasing his dream.
“I'm just playing it by ear as far as how I'm going to get there. In this industry it's all about getting yourself out there and meeting people and you never really know when the next great opportunity is going to land in your lap.”
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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