CALS graduate Taylor Owens has been accepted into the prestigious Godolphin Flying Start Thoroughbred Industry Management and Leadership Programme, a development course for early-career horse racing professionals that will take her to five different countries over two years.
Owens, who earned her Animal Science degree with a Race Track Industry Program emphasis in December 2020, was chosen as one of 12 full-scholarship participants for the 2021-23 class which also includes trainees from the United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, and Germany.
“When they told me I’d been accepted, it was a huge deal,” Owens said. “You travel the world and work with the best trainers, at the best breeding farms and race tracks, and it’s a way to get more hands-on experience and get ahead of the game for my career.”
Owens will train in leadership and management operations at race track facilities in Ireland, the United Kingdom, Australia, Dubai, and the United States while working toward a graduate certificate in management from University College Dublin. Godolphin Flying Start is based in Kildare, Ireland.
She credited her experiences in the RTIP and Tucson’s Rillito Race Track for helping her get accepted into the Flying Start program.
“I didn’t grow up in horse racing, none of my family was involved in it, so I didn’t have any real connection before I came to UA,” Owens said. “The RTIP is unique, we’re a small program, but we are lucky to always have access to industry professionals, so if you want to get into the breeding side or the management side, there’s always someone who can come in and spend time with you, so it’s a fantastic program.
At Rillito Park, Owens got the chance to experience a wide range of jobs related to the racing industry.
“They give the students as many opportunities as they can,” Owens said. “At a big race track like Santa Anita, you wouldn’t be able to do all that, but down at Rillito, the students really run that track the six weeks it’s open.”
Rillito Park general manager Mike Weiss worked with Owens for two years while she was a student in the RTIP program.
“When she was accepted into Flying Start, she called me and was in tears because she was so happy,” Weiss said. “Working with here at Rillito Park, we immediately had faith and trust in her that any idea she brought to the table, we allowed her to jump in and do, but she also asked a lot of questions and was happy to sit and watch and learn. This is such an amazing opportunity for her and I know she’ll take full advantage of it because that’s her personality.”
Graduates of the Flying Start program have gone on to become managers, CEOs and business founders, working in training, breeding, sales and marketing, media, and veterinary sectors of the Thoroughbred industry.
“Right now I’m on the path of becoming a race horse trainer,” said Owens, who is spending the summer working at race tracks in Lexington, Kentucky, and Saratoga, New York, before beginning the Flying Start program. “If that changes during the next two years, I’ll definitely be open to it. This program gives you a chance to see every aspect of the racing industry.”