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Equine Industry Series a Runaway Success

January 13, 2020 Jim Warner
Tom Durkin Legendary Hall of Fame announcer

The Equine Industry Program hosted a series of panels and guest speakers this fall centered around current topics in the racing industry. With the help of Horse Racing Nation, each night was live-streamed for those that couldn’t attend in person, and a recording of the live-stream is hosted on their website and YouTube channel

More than 2,500 people attended the panels, watched the live-stream, or watched the recording within the first 24 hours of each event. EIP Director Sean Beirne was blown away by how well-received the fall series was in the industry. “It’s clear there is a need for conversations like these to be taking place about trends that affect our industry. I’m glad our program is able to provide an opportunity for these discussions to happen.” 

Panel: The Business of Track Surfaces

This panel took a deep dive into the racetrack surfaces and the high level of care that goes into keeping equine and human athletes safe. A variety of topics were covered throughout the night. A look at the current testing methods of the Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory was discussed along with prototypes that are in development that will provide track employees with instant data on the track to assist in making decisions. The panel covered the different considerations that go into caring for dirt, turf, and synthetic surfaces along with the unique challenges for each type of racing surface. The group even delved into the specialized equipment and custom-built water trucks that are hard at work every day. Students from Murray State, Midway College, and Western Kentucky University joined the panel via the live-stream and were even able to ask questions during the Q&A portion.

Moderator: Jim Mulvihill, Churchill Downs Sr. Director of Betting Information

Panelists: Dr. Mick Peterson, UK Equine Program Director; Jamie Richardson, Churchill Downs Track Superintendent; Chip Bach, Turfway Park General Manager

An Evening with the Legendary Tom Durkin

The second part of the fall series brought in Hall of Fame track announcer Tom Durkin (pictured above) to talk about his storied career and share with students some words of wisdom as they leave college and start their careers. Durkin’s top suggestion for students was to read anything you can get your hands on. He talked about how a variety of books helped him with his race calling. One example he used was how a book on the brain helped him with his process for memorizing the horses in each field. Durkin also sprinkled videos of some of his favorite race calls throughout the presentation – everything from the 1995 Breeders’ Cup Classic to the highly quoted “Arrrr” of 2008. His one lament in his storied career is that he was never able to call a Triple Crown winner.

Panel: Sports Wagering and Horse Racing

With the repeal of PASPA in May 2018, states have been racing to legalize and implement sports wagering. This panel took a look at sports wagering and how it has affected horse racing in states where racing already existed. Bill Knauf of Monmouth Park in New Jersey said that sports wagering had been a positive addition to their track. It has boosted evening simulcast wagering and has not reduced on-track wagering. Rep. Adam Koenig talked about the bill he will be introducing in January to legalize sports wagering in Kentucky and how the tax revenue will be used.

Moderator: Mark Midland, CEO Horse Racing Nation

Panelists: Bill Knauf, Monmouth Park VP Track Operations; KY State Rep. Adam Koenig; John Walsh, Hawthorne Race Course Assistant General Manager

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