The 2023 Joe Hirsch Speaker Forum Welcomes Churchill Down's Mike Ziegler

Thursday
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Mike Ziegler at Churchill Downs

Churchill Downs

The RTIP welcomed our first guest of 2023 to the Joe Hirsch Speaker Forum, Mike Ziegler, General Manager of Churchill Downs racetrack. Churchill Downs is one of America’s most recognized tracks and hosts the prestigious Kentucky Derby. Prior to working at Churchill Downs, Mike was the executive director of racing at Churchill Downs, Inc., and held roles at Bay Meadows, Hollywood Park, and the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA).Churchill Downs is one of America’s most recognized tracks and hosts the prestigious Kentucky Derby. Prior to working at Churchill Downs, Mike was the executive director of racing at Churchill Downs, Inc., and held roles at Bay Meadows, Hollywood Park, and the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA).

During Mike’s chat with students, he covered a wide array of topics relating to his role at Churchill Downs. He discussed current projects at the track like the construction of a new paddock and a first turn grandstand, working with other tracks owned by Churchill Downs, Inc., and planning for Kentucky Derby day. Mike also talked to students about challenges he faces in his role such as the implementation of the Horse Racing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA), and the track’s racing surfaces.

His greatest advice to students was to make and maintain connections within the industry, because “everyone knows everyone”. Mike also recommended various post-graduate options for students who wanted to study in other states or countries, as well as emphasizing that “putting yourself out there will put students one step ahead”.