Veteran trainers to share inside look at horse racing

By Leticia Janes

Despite yearly trips to horse races, enthralled visitors and citizens of Lexington, the “horse capital of the world,” may not be thinking of where a thoroughbred horse goes before and after its racing days.

To clue students in on the life of a racehorse and the industry that surrounds it, the UK Horse Racing Club has invited five experts to campus.

Students can get an inside look at horse racing from a trainer’s perspective tonight at 6 in the Student Center Grand Ballroom at the club’s first-ever panel featuring prominent horse trainers.

The UK Horse Racing Club has been involved in numerous events promoting education about the horse industry and experience for club members who want to pursue a career in it, said club spokeswoman Margaret Liles.

Shannon Frame, an animal science junior and club president, has worked with club members, the faculty adviser and local farms for about 10 months to plan the event, which local farms and businesses sponsored. In April, members asked some established racehorse trainers at Keeneland to serve on the panel.

The trainers are Kenny McPeek, Carl Nafzger, Rebecca Maker, John Ward and Ron Moquett.

“I would like students at UK who are actively involved in horse racing to see how the industry works and get career advice,” Frame said.

This is a great opportunity for students to learn from the trainer’s perspective about lesser-known aspects of selection and preparation in the horse racing industry, said animal science professor and club adviser Laurie Lawrence.

“We are expecting around 100 to 200 people in attendance for the event and hopefully more,” Lawrence said. “This was entirely student-ran, and they have done an incredible job.”

The trainers will be on hand to answer and discuss industry issues or basic racing-related questions. Some club officers will lead a discussion with pre-selected questions and then open it to the audience. The evening will also include refreshments and a silent auction.

This is one of the club’s biggest events to benefit the Maker’s Mark Secretariat Center, a Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation facility. Half of the ticket proceeds will go to the center, which is one of the 11 U.S. farms that care for horses when their racing or breeding days are over. The center allows club members to network with industry professionals.

“A big part of being a professional in this industry is also being a good citizen and volunteering,” Liles said. “I am most excited about the education for the students and helping out the center.”

The center is a non-profit organization funded by Maker’s Mark through its partnership with Keeneland, as well as dozens of donors. The center works to retrain and groom dozens of horses in Lexington’s Kentucky Horse Park. Maker’s Mark Secretariat Center opened in the spring of 2004 and is operated by the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation.

Students can purchase tickets to tonight’s panel for $5 in advance or $15 at the door. General admission is $15 in advance and $20 at the door. To purchase, e-mail [email protected]