The Race Track Industry Program (RTIP) hosted the 47th Annual Global Symposium on Racing at Loews Ventana Canyon from December 5 – December 7, 2021. The event, which had to be cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic, is a principal funding source for the RTIP. Given its importance to both the racing industry and to the RTIP, incoming Program Chair, Robert Hartman, saw this event as critical for successfully kickstarting his tenure as the leader of this storied program.
“We knew we needed to make a big splash with the selection of topics and speakers in order to attract the widest audience for the Symposium as well as provide our sponsors with reasons to continue to support the RTIP”, said Hartman. “The industry support was overwhelming; the content was worth the price of admission, and the Symposium delivered one memorable moment after another.”
RTIP students and staff hosted over 400 attendees, as well as 40 guest speakers and panelists. Additionally, the RTIP was able to attract some adjunct meetings that extended the conference an additional day and was instrumental in attracting many first-time attendees.
Sponsorship revenue hit a new highwater mark of $200,000 which contributed to the profitability of the event. Hartman asserted, “Our sponsors are the lifeblood of the Symposium as the financial contributors. The trade show area comes alive during the breaks, allowing the sponsors the ability to unveil new technologies and products to the industry”.
The Symposium got off to a quick start with a welcome message from CALS Associate Dean, Michael E. Staten, who then introduced the event’s Keynote Speaker. The 2021 Keynote address was delivered by former U.S. Congressman Tom Rooney, who was recently appointed President and CEO of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association. The first day of sessions also included the CEOs from the largest racetracks in the U.S. discussing their vision of where racing is headed and what steps need to take place to continue to move it forward. Charles Hayward, Publisher of the Thoroughbred Racing Commentary and former CEO of the New York Racing Association, said in his editorial, “In my experience, having attended the RTIP symposium for many years, there has never been one panel that had four Presidents/CEOs representing four of the most important racetracks in the country. This was a very exciting opportunity to discuss Thoroughbred racing with some of the best minds in the sport”.
Central to the entire agenda was the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority’s (HISA) role, as the federal government’s regulator, with respect to matters of medication and safety. Symposium attendees were treated to presentations from members of the HISA standing committees and heard spirited feedback from industry members affected by the regulations. Other Symposium topics included new wagering initiatives, such as legalized Sports Betting and Fixed-Odds wagering on horses, which could provide a link from pari-mutuel wagering to the rapidly expanding sports betting world.
The second day opened with RTIP seniors on-stage presenting their capstone projects on topics from the “Structure of Racing Commissions”, “Safety Improvement in Steeplechase Racing”, Secondary School curriculum offering an “Introduction to Horseracing”, and the “Importance of Traceability in our Aftercare Efforts”.
RTIP students also were paired with industry leaders for the “Meet your Mentor” luncheon. The annual luncheon provides RTIP students with one-on-one interaction, rare industry insight, and in many cases, have led to long-term relationships with industry leaders throughout the racing industry.
Two exceptional RTIP students were recognized at the Symposium with awards. Graduating senior, David Range, was named the 2021 RTIP Outstanding Student of the Year and 2007 RTIP graduate, Dan Silver, was awarded the Jack Goodman Alumni Award.
Planning for the 48th Symposium rendition is already underway, stay tuned!