|Mahoning Valley track superintendent R. J. Moore with his track crew|
Keeneland Association in Lexington, Ky., and Hollywood Gaming Mahoning Valley Race Course in Youngstown, Ohio, have been awarded the first Equine Equipment Track Internship scholarships for 2017. Seed money for the internships will be provided by Equine Equipment, which gets facilities and active participants in the horse industry leading discounts through local dealers on tractors, mowers and paint with best-selling brands such as Toro, Massey Ferguson, Exmark, FarmPaint and Challenger.
“This is just my idea to give back to the industry and to support the racing facilities and the tracks that support me,” said Innovative Equine Marketing founder Steve Andersen, a life-long racing enthusiast. “Maybe a University of Kentucky ‘ag' student doesn’t want to work in soybeans, corn and tobacco. But he likes dirt, likes equipment and likes being outside. We want to give them the opportunity to see the wonderful world of being a track superintendent.”
Andersen is working with the University of Kentucky and Youngstown State University to provide candidates for the internships at Keeneland and Mahoning Valley. Keeneland track superintendent Javier Barajas and Mahoning Valley track superintendent R.J. Moore will then pick the recipients.
“Keeneland is excited to be able to offer this internship to introduce college students to race-track maintenance and encourage them to pursue a career as a track superintendent,” Barajas said. “With a dirt track, turf course and all-weather training track at Keeneland, a student will receive a unique opportunity to learn about the maintenance of three different surfaces.”
Mark Loewe, vice president for racing operations at Mahoning Valley, applauded a program that will give smart and motivated students the opportunity to learn under the direction of two of the best track superintendents in the business.
“It’s a great idea. As an industry I think we should be looking at more internships for other positions,” Loewe said. “Working race tracks is a science, certainly not something that anybody can walk in off the street and do. It’s a great idea if we can get some young people interested in it. And it’s a very interesting profession, to say the least.”
Other tracks can apply for a 2018 Equine Equipment Track Internship by contacting Andersen at firstname.lastname@example.org or (877) 905-0004, as well as by seeing him and Equine Equipment’s display at the University of Arizona Race Track Industry Program’s Dec. 5-7 Global Symposium on Racing and Gaming at Tucson’s Loews Ventana Canyon Resort.
“These guys are the hardest-working guys on the track,” Andersen said of track superintendents. “There are many of them working the track all night long so it doesn’t freeze. It’s not a question of ‘What time are you coming home?’ It’s ‘Are you coming home tonight?’ They’re often expected to hold equipment together with fishing line, duct tape and gum and hope it holds up because they’re not going to get the budget to do or buy more. And sometimes it’s ‘Don’t spend too much on the gum.’
“It’s a tough business, and track supers have to fight to get the equipment they need and get the very best value and take care of it. They have to appease the horsemen and appease management.”