UA hosts international race event

By Anthony D. Ávila
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, December 6, 2005

More than 900 people will travel from countries as far away as Australia to attend the 32nd annual Symposium on Racing and Gaming this week, but some local graduating seniors could be the ones taking the most interest.

The conference, organized by the UA's Race Track Industry Program, serves many purposes, but most importantly it helps students in the program meet people from all over the world and network to find a job, said Steve Barham, associate coordinator of the program.

"It's a place where all of the leaders of the (horse racing) industry can meet and have discussions, it's a revenue producer for us," Barham said. "And it's one heck of a job fair for our students."

The event, held at Loews Ventana Canyon Resort, 7000 N. Resort Drive, began yesterday and ends Thursday. It is the largest racing conference in the world, said Doug Reed, director of the program.

Eric Yee, an animal sciences senior planning to graduate Dec. 17, said he will use the symposium to hunt down a marketing job in the field, though he realizes his options are limited because of competition.

"I'll be going around talking to a lot of people to see what opportunities are out there," Yee said. "All the students are targeting the same handful of companies, so if there's an opening you have to take advantage of it."

Reed said there are about 50 students in the program, and more than 90 percent of its graduated students quickly land jobs in the industry, which has an economic impact of $10.6 billion in the U.S., according to the American Horse Council Web site.

The program has produced more than 500 alumni over its 32 years, including Doug Bredar, director of racing at Churchill Downs, the home of the Kentucky Derby, Reed said.

During one of the symposium's luncheons, students will be able to meet with professionals who work in the same field of their interest, Reed said.

In addition to panel discussions on traditional horse racing topics, there will be a focus on the "hottest" issues, such as the recent merging of casino and horse race gambling and its implications, Reed said.

Jenna Ramirez, an animal sciences junior who has gone to the symposium for four years, said the event highlights a variety of strengths of the program.

"You get to do so many different things from an international standpoint, from the horse end, to the business end, to the gaming end," said Ramirez, adding that she wants to breed horses in the industry.

Ramirez said she plans to graduate in December 2006 and then work to improve the quality of races and draw more international participants into the U.S.

The program is part of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in the department of animal sciences, Reed said.