Arizona-Bred Elise Peters got her first taste of the racing industry at the 2019 Rillito Park race meet. Through the PRISE program, Elise learned the sport expands far beyond a five-week span starting on the first Saturday in May. The atmosphere and camaraderie of Rillito helped increase Elise's passion for the sport; however, it all stems from a true love for the horse.
Many racing fans have fallen in love with the equine athlete while watching them perform on the racetrack. Elise, on the other hand, is thinking one step ahead, trying to help these amazing competitors find a second home, or even a second career. During the six-week meeting at Rillito, Elise took a major step forward towards her career aspirations and purchased her first racehorse. Following a well-deserved relaxation period for her new companion, Elise will begin training her new mare towards Western-style riding, as well as the beginning of what looks to be a fantastic second career.
What kind of work have you done at Rillito Race Track?
At Rillito Race Track, I was given the opportunity to work in the clubhouse area this season. I assisted with seating guests at reserved tables, taking reservations, and working with race sponsors. For the sponsors, I would escort them to the winner's circle for a commemorative photo, which was then printed and mailed to them. This experience has been excellent in developing my networking and customer service skills, and I have met many wonderful people along the way.
What's something you've learned about the racing industry that surprised you?
From joining the Race Track Industry Program and then having spent time at Rillito, I've been surprised by just how big the horse racing industry actually is. So many people only think of the Kentucky Derby or Triple Crown races when they think of horse racing, but the industry is much more than that. There are many smaller tracks with rich cultures and histories that I don't believe I'd have ever learned about otherwise. Even as a Tucson native, there was a lot I did not know about Rillito that I learned this past year. Truly, this one large surprise will certainly lead to more surprises as I get to experience more of the industry in various places.
After your class work and hands-on experience at the racetrack, did you change your career focus in any way?
My class work and track experiences have both strengthened my established interests and opened up new ones as well. While I am still ultimately interested in breeding and early development of racing prospects, I also have a growing interest in rehoming racehorses when their careers on the track come to an end. With such outstanding athletic ability, racing Thoroughbreds have so much potential in other areas of equine sport. I would love to facilitate the retraining and rehoming of these beautiful animals so they can continue to use their talents after their track careers have ended.
Did you have a favorite horse or horse racing moment growing up that has stuck with you?
There are two horse-related moments that stick out to me from growing up: getting my first Breyer horse, and riding a horse for the first time at a summer camp. Both of these events occurred when I was around 10 years old, and they certainly sealed my fate! I was gifted my first Breyer horse for my birthday, which led to me growing quite a collection of models, many of which I still have today. As for my first ride, it was a short trail ride on an older bay gelding named Sampson. The ride itself wasn't anything particularly special, but that ride and the camp it was part of helped set me up for the riding experiences that have led me to where I am today.
What do you hope to do in the industry after graduation?
I would like to work as part of a Thoroughbred breeding program, or as part of a program focused on rehoming retired Thoroughbreds. I ultimately strive to contribute to the health, safety and protection of the animals; I feel that these career paths offer opportunities to see the tangible benefits of those efforts, which I value.
What's an example of something you think is being done right within the industry? Why?
I have been following the recent events at Santa Anita and am excited by the changes The Stronach Group announced on March 14th regarding race-day medication policies and crop usage. I admire their decision to be the leaders of such monumental change. I believe the welfare of the animals should be of utmost concern for everyone involved in the sport, and this change not only supports that belief but also puts it into practice. The Stronach Group's preparedness to dedicate capital to caring for horses who can no longer race under the new regulations is also an excellent display of putting the horse first. I am eager to see how this event will change the industry in the near future.
New to the Paulick Report? Click here to sign up for our daily email newsletter to keep up on this and other stories happening in the Thoroughbred industry.
Copyright © 2020 Paulick Report.