Del Mar to Host Inaugural American Youth Racing Experience

May 16, 2019

AQHA Youth Racing Experience

Participants in the 2018 AQHA Youth Racing Experience at Los Alamitos

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Del Mar Thoroughbred Club has announced it will serve as the host for the inaugural American Youth Racing Experience (AYRE) this summer, a unique opportunity for young men and women to see and take part in the Thoroughbred game in “up close and personal” fashion.

The event will unfold in the days in front of Del Mar’s foremost race – the $1-million TVG Pacific Classic – and allow 10 youngsters between the ages of 16 to 20 to be involved in the run-up to the mile and a quarter centerpiece on Saturday, August 17, as part of an overall educational experience in many different aspects of racing.

Among the opportunities for AYRE participants during the August 14 to 17 event period will be mornings in a trainer’s barn learning about the care and training of the equine athlete; then afternoons experiencing industry marketing, customer service, security, rules and regulation, the racing office and track management. They will interact with racing officials, veterinarians, owners, trainers and jockeys in all areas of the racetrack, including virtually any and all locations on the grounds.

“We’re excited to be able to offer this special program to horse-oriented youngsters in a special location like Del Mar,” said Wendy Davis, the director of the Racetrack Industry Program at the University of Arizona and the coordinator for the AYRE committee. “The American Quarter Horse Association has conducted a similar arrangement for many years but this will be a first on the Thoroughbred side.”

The AYRE committee is looking for its applicants among youngsters who have a hands-on experience with horses (including those who participate in horse shows, 4-H, FFA, pony club or other equestrian disciplines/events), or have a background in racing. To be eligible for consideration, the youngster must:

1) complete a written application; 2) write a 500-word essay describing his/her experience with horses or racing; 3) provide three letters of reference from equine or racing professionals, and 4) produce a three- to five-minute video showing their expertise in handling/riding a horse, or their abilities in a particular aspect of the racing industry.

Applications can be obtained from Davis at her University of Arizona office (RTIP, 845 N. Park Ave, Suite 370, Tucson, AZ 85721), or via e-mail contact at  Applications must be returned to her by no later than Friday, June 28 and those chosen for the program will be notified by Monday, July 15.

There is no charge for participants in the program. Conversely, those taking part in it will be on their own for housing and some meals, as well as parental oversight where necessary.

“We’re delighted to be able to break new ground in the Thoroughbred world with a program like this,” noted Craig Dado, a DMTC executive vice president and its chief marketing officer. “We’ve run a popular college intern program at the track since the 1970s, but this will allow us to interact with an even younger crew. Del Mar’s fans are among the youngest demographic in our industry and AYRE seems like a perfect fit for us.”

The long-running Quarter Horse youth program has been termed instrumental in providing incentive for dozens of youngsters to go on and make a life and a career in the racing industry. They include current veterinarians, sales executives, trainers, racing journalists, handicappers and racing executives.

Final Del Mar participants will be selected by the AYRE committee members. Besides Davis and Dado, the committee also includes Dan Fick, the chairman of the Racing Officials Accreditation Program; Angie Carmona, deputy director of the California Thoroughbred Trainers; noted bloodstock agent Gayle Van Leer, and several other Del Mar staff members.

Del Mar’s 36-day summer meeting runs from Wednesday, July 17 to Monday, September 2.


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