For such a young man, Nicholas Fanucchi has really been around. From Keeneland to Del Mar, Santa Anita to Belmont Park, he has witnessed some of the best racing in America over the past 10+ years. And not just because of his love of horses and racing. His family has a vested interest in some of the best racehorses of the past decade. Fanucchi is the nephew of Barbara Banke of Stonestreet Farms. The roster of legendary racehorses Fanucchi calls family could make anyone a little ostentatious. But Fanucchi does not take his privilege flippantly. So much so that he set out to blaze his own trail in the sport by enrolling in the University of Arizona Race Track Industry Program (RTIP). And to further gain hands-on racetrack experience, Fanucchi has worked in the graphics department at Tucson's Rillito Park the past three years as part of the PariBet Racetrack Industry Student Experience (PRISE).
This year, in addition to his weekend graphics duties, Fanucchi was an entry clerk during the week, taking entries, verifying eligibility and assisting with draws.
“It was a great learning experience to be able to talk to trainers and discuss why they were spotting their horses in certain races,” said Fanucchi. “Observing the procedures and then helping put the races together was very enlightening. There is so much that goes into putting on the show. Mike Weiss [Rillito Park General Manager] has been a great person to learn track operations from. He's got a long history of running racetracks and helps us as students further our knowledge in that part of the industry.”
Fanucchi has taken advantage of learning from the people he has met through the RTIP. He especially enjoyed hosting Derron Heldt, Director of Racing at Prairie Meadows, during the RTIP Global Symposium on Racing mentor lunch each of the past two years.
“We've talked about nearly every aspect of racing and how it pertains to his track's state of Iowa. Mr. Heldt is just a wealth of information and a pleasure to have him as a mentor for the past few years,” said Fanucchi.
One of Fanucchi's top racing experiences to date was on the first Saturday in November last year. Chad Brown had pleaded his case to run a 2-year-old colt in the Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1), even though he was still a maiden. Brown ultimately convinced the owners to run. The day didn't start so well as Lady Aurelia, a Stonestreet Farms favorite, ran out of steam in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G1) after a year-long intercontinental campaign. However, later in the day, Good Magic, the maiden, ran away from the field down the stretch to win the Juvenile. Now Brown, e Five Racing and Stonestreet Farms (and Fanucchi) have a horse running the first Saturday in May.
“I'm very blessed to be able to experience the big races and I try to absorb everything when I'm around those types of elite horsemen,” said Fanucchi.
Fanucchi has also put in his work in the classroom, and on the farm at the UA Equine Center. During the Fall semester, he worked with yearlings, preparing them for the Arizona Thoroughbred Breeders Association (ATBA) sale. Fanucchi worked horses in the round pens, walked, bathed and groomed them and stood them for conformation review.
Nicholas Fanucchi will continue to go places in the business of horseracing, and not just because he has a free ticket whenever he wants it. While he may end up working in the family business, he is working hard to make his own mark.
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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