This is part of a series profiling participants of the PariBet Racetrack Industry Student Experience (PRISE), a program that allows students at the University of Arizona's Race Track Industry Program the chance to work in paid positions in key roles at Rillito Park.
For many people who love horse racing, their interest in the sport was sparked by a love of the equine. For Claudia Alvarez, horse racing has provided her the chance to work around animals she is so passionate about. Alvarez already had a degree in visual communications when she enrolled in the Race Track Industry Program, but she has now found a course of study and an industry that has gotten her excited about her future.
“Coming from a 'horseless' background and finding something that is 'horse everything' is just amazing,” Alvarez said. “My interest just grows and grows in all directions from horse farms to racetracks.”
Since Alvarez does not come from a racing background, working at Rillito Park afforded her the opportunity to get a crash course in racetrack operations. In her first year working the meet, Alvarez operated the photo finish camera and controlled the back-up timer. In this role, she spent every race day in the stewards' stand and spent her spare time observing the stewards in action.
“I was able to learn about racing officials and how they go about making decisions that cost horses their placing due to interference or fouls,” Alvarez said. “I got to see and hear firsthand what a steward's job entails.”
When asked about her favorite part of working at Rillito, Alvarez is quick to mention “the horses, the horses, the horses.” However, she loved the human interactions as well, from the crowd to her coworkers.
“I liked being able to see the excitement as the crowd roared when the horses approached the finish line,” Alvarez said. “I especially liked being able to interact with other students and learn about their jobs and the jobs of everyone who works to make a track run.”
Going forward, Alvarez is keeping her options open when it comes to potential careers in horse racing.
“I have learned that there is so much the racing industry has to offer,” Alvarez said. “I would really like to learn more in the breeding aspects and training, but I am also very drawn to working with racing officials and regulating the sport.”
Wherever Alvarez ends up in the industry, she can be sure that her love of the horse and the knowledge gained at Rillito will propel her forward to success.
Learn more about the University of Arizona's Race Track Industry Program.
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