Established in 1973 at the University of Arizona, the Race Track Industry Program (RTIP) is world renowned for its curriculum on the pari-mutuel racing and equine bloodstock industries. Program graduates - including two Kentucky Derby winning trainers - represent many of the "who's who" in racing today. The educational reach goes beyond campus. Each year, RTIP faculty and students host one of the largest racing conferences on the international calendar; delegates representing 20 countries and six continents attended the Symposium on Racing and Gaming in December 2012.
Wendy Davis, associate coordinator and advisor for the program, fell into the category of the typical "horse crazy kid" who was searching for an equine-based career and a college program that would prepare her for it. She found a perfect fit when, in high school, she met with an advisor for UA's Department of Animal Sciences, Frank Whiting. He described a new program that wasn't offered anywhere else in the United States and combined horses, business and racing. Davis didn't need to go any further – this was it! Not only was the curriculum "spot on," but Whiting made a lasting impression that day of what an advisor and true mentor could be. "I remember the comfort I felt in making the transition to college life knowing that Dr. Whiting was there," said Davis.
Students enrolled in the program get to meet industry professionals brought in as "guest professors" who not only bridge academic concepts to real-world practices but open doors to professional relationships as well. "In my current role at the program," Davis remarked, "I try to ‘pay forward' the tremendous support shown to me as an undergraduate with the students I work with today in RTIP and the Department of Animal Sciences."
RTIP continues to offer a strong academic background in racing and business with increased opportunities for students to showcase their talents and skills through projects conducted in cooperation with racing or racing-related businesses, customized internship opportunities, an organized mentor luncheon with an executive of the student's choice during the symposium and, of course, with the many industry professionals who are brought in to speak throughout the semester with the goal of "bridging education with opportunity."