Tucson native Claudia Alvarez is seeking her second bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona through the Race Track Industry Program. Her first degree is in Visual Communications, with an emphasis on graphic design and illustration.
At the time of her first graduation, she had still not been bitten by the racing bug. Since entering the RTIP, Alvarez has immersed herself fully into the racing world. Between the classwork at UA and her experiences in PRISE program at Rillito, Alvarez has become a well-rounded racetracker. Each year, the PRISE program has offered her more responsibility, and each year she has excelled in every area she has worked.
In her own words:
What's the most important thing you've learned through your classes and job experiences?
I come in with fresh eyes, fresh ears, and enthusiasm.
Everything I have learned and been exposed to through classes or with the hands-on experience is of high importance. I have learned to appreciate all aspects of racing, from equine conformation, the art being a good horseman, breeders, trainers and all the jobs pertaining to horse racing. This is a world where everything revolves around horses and it all still wows me.
What kind of work have you done at Rillito Race Track?\
I am in my 3rd season at Rillito and every season I have added additional responsibilities. I have worked in the steward's stand all 3 seasons as a placing judge, timing official and photo finish operator. In my 2nd season, I co-hosted the paddock show as a racetrack analyst. This season, along with the responsibilities previously mentioned, I am also working in the racing office. I learned to take entries and update trainer files by transferring horses or receiving foal papers, and assisted in the post position draws.
After your class work and hands-on experience at the racetrack, did you change your career focus in any way?
I still aim to work in regulation and to attend the Racing Official Accreditation Program, but I really enjoy handicapping on air. I look forward gaining more experience in a racing office and in technical aspects, such as the production of simulcasting.
Did you have a favorite horse or horse racing moment growing up that has stuck with you?
I am still new to the horse racing world. I had just signed up to attend the Racetrack Industry Program at the University of Arizona when American Pharoah won his Kentucky Derby. I started researching the connections and found that Bob Baffert was a graduate of the Race Track Program! I found the coincidence to be very encouraging, kind of one of those life signs of all ends coming together.
What do you consider the most important problem facing the racing industry? How would you go about solving it?
I think the most important problem facing the racing industry is the experience of the racing officials, the stewards. Currently there is a demand for stewards, and it may not be due to the lack of available stewards, but rather their lack of experience. Becoming a steward is my ultimate goal, and my experiences through PRISE have given me a clear picture of how to map my career in order to reach that goal. The best way to solve the current fault in regulation would be to require even more involvement from stewards in all aspects of racing, especially in the racing office where it all starts. Stewards should spend more time performing all lines of positions offered in a race track so they too have hands-on experience.
What do you hope to do in the industry after graduation?
After I am done at UA, I hope to get into the New Mexico circuit. I am looking for employment in a racing office or in the production of simulcasting. I plan on undertaking the ROAP accreditation process as soon as possible to reach my goal of becoming a steward.
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