New Mexico-bred Kietzecume Garcia is no stranger to the horse. He spent much of his childhood working with horses on the ranches around Santa Ana Pueblo where he grew up. Garcia's interest in racing started to gather after trips with his family to Albuquerque Downs and the New Mexico state fair races.
Rillito's resident multilingual cameraman extraordinaire is in his third season working with the PRISE program. After operating the front stretch pan camera in his first year, he took over duties on the remote camera for the past two seasons. During the 2019 season Garcia also had a strong presence in the racing office. His work ethic and critical thinking skills made him a valuable asset in the entry process.
In his words:
Growing up, what was your involvement and interest in horse racing?
I used to go to Albuquerque Downs, which is about a half hour drive from the Santa Ana Pueblo. Both my father and grandfather taught me about racing and how to read past performances. I was always fascinated by horses and have a couple of head back home in New Mexico.
What's the most important thing you've learned through your classes and job experiences?
One thing I've learned from the racing industry is that each job; from the owners to the hotwalkers, is an integral part of a huge machine. There is a lot of hard work done by people on the backside that goes unnoticed. Each member of the team is part of the success of the horse that is running.
What kind of work have you done at Rillito Race Track?
During the 2017 meet I operated the front stretch camera. In 2018 I was promoted to operating the Wireless Camera. The job included recording the pre-race handicapping show with Mitch Gerson and Hugh Drexler before each race. Recording the pre-race handicap before each race with Hugh Drexler and Claudia Alvarez. I was also in charge of recording the winners circle after each race as well as any special event held during the meet. I enjoyed the position because it gave me a chance to walk around the grandstand area during races and soak in the environment. I also was helping take entries on Wednesdays and Thursdays for the race. This allowed me to get to know the racing office but also allowed me to interact with trainers, jockeys and owners.
What's something you've learned about the racing industry that surprised you?
I originally came to the U of A to study linguistics. My focus was on language revitalization for Native American languages. After completing many of the required credits for the major, my academic advisor told me that I was able to double major. After looking into different majors, I stumbled upon RTIP. This was one of a big surprise for me because I didn't initially believe that it was an actual major. Nonetheless, I decided to join because I have always found horses to be fascinating. I am still double majoring in linguistics and the RTIP. Knowing a variety of languages like Spanish and French can also be very helpful in the racing industry as the sport is global.
After your class work and hands-on experience at the racetrack, did you change your career focus in any way?
I got really interested in the breeding aspect of racing after attending ATBA Horse Sale in Queen Creek, Ariz. This was the first horse sale that I had been to, and it was through a class offered through the U of A. We sold three thoroughbred horses at the sale. One of those horses, Stryker's Dream, made his first start at Albuquerque Downs. Although he didn't break his maiden that day, it was very exciting to see him after the sale and to see the University of Arizona listed in the program as the breeder. I want to stick to breeding to encourage the agricultural part of the industry while improving the quality of the Thoroughbred breed in NM.
What do you hope to do in the industry after graduation?
I'm still weighing out my options. Teletimer likes me since I have worked the camera for them for two years. I was looking into the training side of the industry but more recently have enjoyed the breeding/agriculture side of the industry.
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