Giselle Lugo: Arizona Downs
This summer I interned at Arizona Downs in Prescott Valley, Arizona. I gained valuable leadership, management, television, and racing industry skills at the Arizona Downs summer race meet. At the track, I was the assistant to the General Manager, one of the paddock show hosts, an entry clerk in the racing office, and the program designer. I also helped in whatever capacity the racetrack needed me to. I got to see what it was like to run a racetrack on the management side, but I also got to be an integral part of the racing office this past summer, which was an amazing experience.
As assistant to the General Manager, Mike Weiss, I learned the ins-and-outs of each department and what they need to do to run smoothly and efficiently. I realized that management is a possible route for where I want to go after graduation because I have varying leadership experiences at UArizona, and being able to utilize these skills in different ways this summer was really eye opening and beneficial to me.
I was also one of the paddock show hosts, alongside RTIP alum Aaron Vercruysse. Working alongside Aaron was an experience I wish all RTIP students could have. I learned so much about the industry, television, and handicapping through Aaron. He’s very willing to teach, and it made me even more excited to be a part of the horse racing industry. Thanks to Aaron, who felt like a mentor to me, there was never a dull moment while going to work on race days!
In the racing office I got to take entries alongside the Racing Secretary and Assistant Racing Secretary, proof the races before the draw, and be sure each horse entered is eligible to run in the respective conditions set, participate in draws, enter the races after each draw into the computer system, and then smoke the races afterwards. Once all that was done on entry days, the next day(s) I would design the program utilizing an array of computer formats and editing applications, and then submit the final program to the Daily Racing Form. These days of the week were my busiest days, but they were also the most fun.
This summer experience is one I won’t ever forget. My knowledge on every position at the track, on the backside, and in the regulatory area has grown tremendously. I learned so much more than I thought I was going to during my internship at Arizona Downs, and I’ll be forever grateful for the opportunity.
— Giselle Lugo