With its online courses continuing to attract national and international participation and the first edition of its in-person Grader School program set to be held in mid-September at Keeneland, the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment’s Racetrack Managers Certification Program (RMCP), and National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) today announced that it will be launching a second in-person Grader School course in the future.
The Racecourse Manager Certification program curriculum is designed for those already engaged in careers with turf surface maintenance. The online classes are free. Individuals who complete the video courses and pass a test that requires a $50 fee will receive a certificate of completion from the University of Kentucky. Participating Thoroughbred racetracks that enroll their personnel will receive credit toward future accreditation by the NTRA Safety & Integrity Alliance.
The online course offered by the RMCP, “Turf as an Equine Sports Surface,” provides training for professionals by experts from within and outside of horse racing. The second course, dubbed “Grader School,” will debut September 13-15 at Keeneland and offers hands-on training in the use of motor graders for maintaining a safe and consistent depth of dirt and synthetic surfaces.
The first session of Grader School will include a select group of five racetrack maintenance professionals seeking to acquire advanced skills and experience to improve their career progression. The class will be taught by veteran racetrack superintendents Dennis Moore and Alfredo Laureano. Moore is a Southern California-based track superintendent with nearly 50 years of racing experience while Laureano is the track superintendent at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Ky. Both Moore and Laureano have extensive experience with both dirt and synthetic surfaces. Their experiences include maintenance through a range of use and climate conditions and experience with both older graders and state-of-the-art equipment.
The inaugural enrollees for Grader School include:
Brian Brown, Track Maintenance Skilled Laborer, Fair Grounds Race Course (Louisiana)
Derek Pettinger, Assistant Superintendent, Remington Park (Oklahoma)
Keith Stockman, Superintendent, Delaware Park Race Track
Richard Sweeney, Assistant Track Superintendent, Maryland Jockey Club
Stirling “Harrison” Young, Assistant Superintendent, Turf, Colonial Downs (Virginia)
Two scholarships that cover class tuition and include support for lodging expenses have been awarded. The Equinox Racing Award will go to Harrison Young of Colonial Downs. The Horsemen’s Track and Equipment scholarship will be awarded to Derek Pettinger of Remington Park. These award recipients were chosen based on their potential for future leadership in racetrack maintenance.
“Maintaining a safe, fair, and consistent racetrack is truly an art form. Experienced and proficient grading of the surface is one of the most vital keys to this entire process for the safety of our world-class equine and human athletes,” said David Richardson, Executive Director of the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association. “Richard (Sweeney) and the rest of the first class for this program are young and dedicated and the future of our industry.”
Based on the large number of applications and inquiries, a second session of the Grader School will be scheduled in the future. Opportunities for hands-on experience will be extended to both new and experienced operators.
Sign up to receive information about RMCP offerings here. Learn more about the Racecourse Managers Certificate Program here. Enroll in the “Turfgrass as an Equine Surface” course here.
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About the University of Kentucky Ag Equine Programs
UK Ag Equine Programs serves as the front door to equine work being done at the University of Kentucky, representing the breadth and depth of all things equine in the College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment. It exemplifies the college’s long-term commitment to serving the equine industry and horse enthusiasts regionally, nationally, and internationally.
About the Equine Sports Turfgrass Alliance
The Equine Sports Turfgrass Alliance, (ESTA) is a recently formed group of university and industry turfgrass experts in partnership with Dr. Mick Peterson. ESTA as an organization is dedicated to conducting research and providing education about turfgrass surfaces for racetrack, eventing, polo, and other-use equine surfaces. This education event is their first offering. However, future research and educational opportunities for horse owners, trainers, and equine facility managers are currently being developed. It is the goal of ESTA to bring science-backed maintenance practices to the forefront of equine turfgrass systems.
About the NTRA Safety & Integrity Alliance
The NTRA Safety & Integrity Alliance is a standing organization formed in 2008 with the goal of establishing national uniform standards in the areas of safety and integrity. Alliance accreditation standards cover six broad areas: (1) injury reporting and prevention; (2) creating a safer racing environment; (3) aftercare and transition of retired racehorses; (4) uniform medication, testing and penalties; (5) safety research; and (6) wagering security. The standards are revised annually to adopt new and progressively more stringent requirements.
About the NTRA
The NTRA, based in Lexington, Ky., is a broad-based coalition of more than 100 horse racing interests and thousands of individual stakeholders consisting of horseplayers, racetrack operators, owners, breeders, trainers and affiliated horse racing associations, charged with increasing the popularity, welfare and integrity of Thoroughbred racing through consensus-based leadership, legislative advocacy, safety and integrity initiatives, fan engagement and corporate partner development. The NTRA owns and manages the NTRA Safety & Integrity Alliance; NTRA.com; the Eclipse Awards; the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC); NTRA Advantage, a corporate partner sales and sponsorship program; and Horse PAC®, a federal political action committee. NTRA press releases appear on NTRA.com and social media.
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