The Kentucky Equine Management Internship (KEMI) Program would like to thank Juddmonte Farms and Keeneland for their continued support. Juddmonte Farms named KEMI as the beneficiary of the Juddmonte Spinster Stakes at Keeneland Racecourse on Sunday, October 7th. Keeneland matched Juddmonte Farms’ donation. Thank you to Juddmonte Farms and Keeneland for your generous support, and congratulations to winner Blue Prize!
Graduate Spotlight: Adolfo Martinez
By Sarah Coleman
Keep Looking Forward
Growing up all across the Lone Star State, Adolfo Martinez graduated from Fort Davis Texas High School before attending Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas, where he studied Animal Science with an emphasis in Reproduction and Physiology. “We always had horses around,” explains Adolfo, so going to school to pursue something equine-related was a no-brainer. While traveling to the Bluegrass for an equine symposium with his college advisor, Adolfo met force-to-be-reckoned with Shannon White, who at the time was the KEMI Program Coordinator. “I decided to take a break from my master’s-degree program and give it [the KEMI program] a try,” Adolfo explains. “I was ready for a change and was looking forward to gaining experience outside of the Quarter Horse industry.”
A Way of Life
This forward-looking way of thinking is truly engrained in Adolfo. Even before he arrived in Kentucky, he looked for opportunities and made sure he took advantage of options placed before him. Adolfo’s favorite part of the KEMI program “was meeting all the people I still continue to see today here in Lexington,” he explains. The amount of education available and the ability to network were instrumental in helping the KEMI students, he noted. “Everyone is helpful and knows contacts to get you where you need to be,” he explains. Though KEMI placed fantastic opportunities in front of Adolfo, the now-manager of Heaven Trees acknowledges that it “was my education and drive that helped me get what I needed out of KEMI.” While in the program, Adolfo was placed on Pin Oak Stud, where he was exposed to a lot of areas on the farm he was not as-familiar with and he had managers who helped him learn the skills he needed. After graduating, Adolfo worked for Thoroughbred powerhouses like Wimbledon Farm, where he flew with Lion Cavern to Australia; Mill Ridge Farm, where he shuttled Johar to New Zealand and worked in the foaling barns while in the States; Darby Dan Farm, where he was Broodmare Manager, then Assistant Farm Manager/Broodmare Manager; and Calumet where he worked with yearlings at their Bluegrass Farm division. Always looking forward, he then transitioned to his role as Farm Manager at Heaven Trees in Lexington, where he has been since November of 2016. Owned by Dede McGehee, Heaven Trees is a private farm with about 45 horses ranging from foals to retired broodmares and geldings. The farm consigns yearlings for the September sale and occasionally mares for the November sale.
“I love working on this farm,” Adolfo says. “The owner is great to work for and I have a great staff to work with; we do everything from horses to gardening to maintaining the farm grounds.
You Get Out What You Put In
One of the hardest parts of being a KEMI intern was feeling lost and like you didn’t understand what everyone was talking about, he explains. “As time passes, you catch up and it all makes sense,” he promises. When asked if he would complete the KEMI program again, without hesitation, Adolfo says “in a heartbeat!” On advice for students who see themselves in the Thoroughbred industry? “The days are long and some nights are longer. Dig deep and push your limit—it’s a very rewarding job.” Adolfo’s advice to incoming KEMI students rings just as true for those already entrenched in the equine industry: “Be ready to be open and bust your rear to make a difference. You never wanna be remembered for the bad, so make sure you leave a lot of good things behind.”
Truer words have rarely been spoken and, characteristically, Adolfo sums up his time in the Horse Capital as this: “[Working in this industry] has been a very fun and adventurous ride—and I’m looking forward to more.”
Graduate Spotlight: Cathy McNeeley O’Meara
By: Sarah Coleman
Featured image provided by: The Jockey Club
Cathy McNeely O’Meara, originally from Boones Mill, VA (where some episodes of Moonshiners was filmed, she points out), has long been an animal lover and avid equine enthusiast. Cathy was involved with horses from a very young age; her mother was a show-horse trainer and had Cathy in the competition ring at just 18 months old. Growing up, “I was always the guinea pig for new, green ponies and horses to make sure they were OK for the lesson programs and summer camps … I got a real appreciation early on for keeping my heels down and my eyes up!” she laughs.
When it came time for her to go off to college, Cathy specifically chose Virginia Tech as it had full herds (five species) that allowed for maximum hands-on experience. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal and Poultry Science and has since gotten an MBA in Information Systems from Sullivan University.
Though always passionate about the horses, it wasn’t until deciding not to pursue veterinary school that Cathy stumbled across KEMI while doing an internet search. She knew she wanted to work in the equine industry, but didn’t know in what capacity.
KEMI piqued her interest. Though Cathy and her mom had worked with many Thoroughbreds when they retired from the track, she had never dealt with them as racehorses. “I was excited to be trying something new” with the KEMI program, Cathy said. She looked forward to being exposed to many facets of the Thoroughbred industry through the program.
The Difference Between Racehorse and Riding Horse
During her time as a KEMI student, her favorite part of the program was “definitely the ability to work with horses daily. I was fortunate to be able to expand my knowledge of breaking and training with new techniques and methods,” Cathy says. “Even though there’s a different way to do things as this is a business not just a backyard farm [like she was used to], the experience was demanding, but also thoroughly enjoyable.”
Dealing with the frustration of being asked to do something differently from the way one thinks it should be done was one of the hardest parts of being a KEMI intern, Cathy noted. While that probably just has to do with being young, she acknowledges, it was extremely valuable to learn that “there is typically a reason why things are done a certain way at the farms and you should respect that–certainly ask why, as you may be able to offer a potential alternative, but also be understanding of the potential constraints that may also exist.”
This was an invaluable lesson that all KEMI students learn and it is one that has served Cathy well, both in her time in KEMI and in her professional career.
Placed on Pin Oak Stud, one of Cathy’s favorite parts of her time on the farm was morning sets. “Regardless of whether it was actually riding out a set or just long lining them, I love misty mornings at sunrise,” she explains. And there truly is nothing prettier than morning in the Bluegrass, working with Thoroughbreds!
Though “I found out that farm life wasn’t my thing, I found a great appreciation for the industry and understand that all parts are equally important,” Cathy explains. KEMI, like any other quality educational program, is just as valuable for showing students what they DON’T want to do, as solidifying what they DO want to do. Exposing students to all the facets of the industry allows them to hone in on what they enjoy and don’t care for, working to ensure that KEMI grads’ future full-time jobs are ones they are truly passionate about.
Cathy O’Meara at Pin Oak Stud during KEMI internship.
A Vast and Varied Equine Career Path
Though Cathy does not currently work hands-on with horses, she has held many fantastic positions in the equine industry. “Directly after the [KEMI] internship (Fall then Spring session), Pin Oak sent me to Kildangan Stud in Ireland for a breaking and training season. Upon my return, I worked a few more months at Pin Oak, then left for a racetrack exercise rider position at the Thoroughbred Training Center,” Cathy says. “Over the next eight years, I worked as a freelance and salaried rider, had my owner/trainer license for a few horses, legged up horses for others, did accounts management for various farms and associations, and even worked as a farm manager for a year (which ended up not being my passion!).”
Ultimately, Cathy landed at The Jockey Club in 2008, where she has been since. “I now am the Industry Initiatives Coordinator for The Jockey Club and Racing Officials Accreditation Program (ROAP). I coordinate the Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summits and handle the day-to-day operations of ROAP. While I never saw myself working in a regulatory/advocacy environment, I thoroughly enjoy being able to work through the issues that face our racing industry to ensure a safe and prosperous industry for the future.”
And though she’s not currently working hands-on with the horses, Cathy acknowledges that KEMI provided her with the foundation she needed work in her role with ROAP. “The hands-on experience and networking, which began through my internship, was the stepping stone to my next endeavors. Without it, I would not be working in the racing industry.”
Always Keep Learning
KEMI can be tough, especially if students come in with preconceived notions about horses or the Thoroughbred industry. Cathy’s best advice? “Plan to work hard and keep an open mind. There are different ways of doing things and most people want to do it ‘their way.’ Even though I [came into the program] with lots of hands-on experience, I still learned a tremendous amount.”
Cathy encourages KEMI students to keep an open mind when they’re involved in the program, as there are myriad positions in the racing world, not all of which involve training or management. “Just because one area [of the equine industry] may not interest you, keep networking and trying new areas. Hard work is key and respect for your managers is paramount. Don’t hesitate to ask questions and always keep learning,” she advises.
Juddmonte Farms generously made Kentucky Equine Management Internship (KEMI) the beneficiary of the Spinster Stakes at Keeneland on Sunday, October 8th. Keeneland graciously matched their donation. Thank you Juddmonte Farms and Keeneland for your continued support!
Leslie Janecka, Coordinator of the Kentucky Equine Management Internship (KEMI), was recently awarded the prestigious Thoroughbred Industry Community Award. Presented by Godolphin, the program is a partnership with the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA), Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA) and The Jockey Club to highlight those working in horseracing and breeding who are the backbone of the industry; each nominee plays an invaluable role in caring for the equine athletes and in racing.
While nominees for the Community Award need not be employed by the racing industry, they contribute to the greater good of the sport. With winners determined by a prestigious judging panel, Janecka will receive $10,000 and an additional $5,000 to go toward the charity of her choice. She also will receive a commemorative trophy.
Additional Thoroughbred Industry Employee Awards include:
- Leadership Award Farm
- Leadership Award Racing
- Dedication to Breeding Award
- Dedication to Racing Award
- Thoroughbred Industry Community Award
Janecka will be recognized at the Awards ceremony luncheon on Oct. 13 at Keeneland.
For more information, visit the Godolphin website here.
Thoroughbred Racehorse Trainer Jordan Blair
A Family Affair
Born in the Bluegrass, Jordan Blair has been a Thoroughbred racing fan practically since birth. Well versed in all facets of the industry, Jordan attended his first Breeders’ Cup in 1988 at Churchill Downs. His mother, Debbie, worked for the organization as the Vice President of Customer and Event Services. Because of her role with Breeders’ Cup, Blair was very aware that there were many ways to work in the racing industry and that not all of them were hands-on with the horses.
But hands-on is what Jorden preferred: To earn spending money as a teenager, he worked for the Keeneland sales for consignors like Taylor Made, as well as for Bluegrass Thoroughbreds and Pin Oak Stud. Jordan also worked for Gainsborough Farm and Dromoland Farm throughout high school and college.
After graduating from Tates Creek High School in Lexington in 1999, Jordan attended the University of Kentucky (UK), where he studied Agricultural Economics and Horticulture Science; he chose the Big Blue Nation for multiple reasons, including in-state tuition, the easy transition to college from home, its top-notch ag college and the fact that “I’ve always been a huge UK sports fan!” says Jordan.
A Lucky Find
After graduating from UK, Jordan went to Mississippi State to get a Master’s Degree in Agribusiness Management. It was while he was in grad school that Jordan stumbled upon the Kentucky Equine Management Internship (KEMI) program.
Required to complete an internship to finish his MBA, Blair found the KEMI program online and was immediately intrigued: “I was sold [on it] as it was in my hometown and I was anxious to graduate!” he explains. Jordan applied and, once accepted into the program, was placed on Pin Oak Stud in Versailles.
Home to a stallion roster that includes Broken Vow and Alternation, Pin Oak encompasses over 1,300 acres and cares for broodmares and foals in addition to its stallions. The farm is owned by Josephine Abercromie, a staunch supporter of both the racing industry and the local community—both of which Jordan was, and continues to be, passionate about.
“I learned many things at Pin Oak, including the ins-and-outs of operating a breeding farm, organizing broodmares and their cycles, weaning babies and handling stallions,” Jordan says. “General Manager Clifford Barry also taught me how to work smarter and to pay close attention to details. He was a strong mentor of mine.”
Making His Own Way
While Jordan received vast amounts of hands-on experience while working at Pin Oak, he also enjoyed the classroom and lecture portions of KEMI. He greatly appreciated the ability to be exposed to great professionals who worked in every facet of the Thoroughbred industry.
Once graduated from KEMI in 2006, Blair worked some additional sales, then got a full-time position in the front office of Ben-D Farm in Walton, Ky., where he worked for 2 years as office manager, taking care of accounts, booking mares to stallions, working with sales companies and consignments. He was also hands-on with delivering foals and prepping yearlings. After his time at Ben-D, Blair changed gears and became an assistant trainer, working under such notables as Mike Maker, Michael Ewing and Kenny McPeek. After eight years, he struck out on his own.
A Solid Foundation
Jordan’s time in KEMI helped prepare him for what real life in the Thoroughbred industry is like. He strongly recommends that anyone looking to work in the Thoroughbred world complete the program; he notes that KEMI helped him understand that “there aren’t many ‘jobs’ in the equine industry–it’s more of a lifestyle: [There are] Not many days off.”
So what pieces of advice does Jordan offer potential incoming KEMI students? “Understand that you’ll start at the bottom, learn and work your way up. Be prepared to work hard and keep your ears open. You won’t see the benefit of mucking stalls and raking shedrows until you’re in charge of that sort of thing. Pick up as much knowledge as possible in the short time you have there. Go above and beyond what is expected–that is what sets you apart from others.”
And what was the hardest part of KEMI? Learning how to balance work and course work, Jordan says. Now married with a child of his own, KEMI helped Jordan learn how to balance multiple important priorities, as well as the importance of networking, and keeping close contacts inside and out of the industry.
Jordan still keeps in touch with other KEMI grads and he even does business with a few. He believes very strongly that KEMI provides a valuable service for the industry: “It provides good people for the farms during and after their internships; it also provides an ‘in’ for these students [those passionate about Thoroughbreds] who wouldn’t know any other way of going about entering this business.”
The Secret to His Success
So, is there one key to Jordan’s success? Not really. “It’s all been based on very hard (and smart) work, and the contacts I’ve made and kept over the years. I am always learning and always open to new ideas,” he says. “There is so much more to running a business than knowing how to deal with horses, and I’ve learned many lessons by making mistakes. I’ve had some very hard times, but by persevering and not giving up, I’ve been able to grow my stable.”
Now married to business partner Jordan Springer, Jordan focuses on racing client horses at Turfway, Ellis Park, Churchill Downs, Indiana Grand and Kentucky Downs. Jordan has trained stakes-placed Silver Magnolia and allowance horses including Craving Carats, Patrick’s Day, Oatfield and Gift Receipt.
The Kentucky Equine Management Internship (KEMI) is now accepting applications for our Spring of 2018 session. Dates for Spring 2018 are January 8 – June 1, 2018. Applications are located on this website. The deadline for applications is October 31, 2017. Any questions can be directed to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kentucky Equine Management Internship (KEMI) has been awarded a grant from Thoroughbred Charities of America (TCA). KEMI would like to thank TCA and all of the farms who designated KEMI as the beneficiary in the TCA Stallion Season Auction. TCA’s mission is to provide a better life for Thoroughbreds, both during and after their racing careers, by supporting qualified repurposing and retirement organizations and by helping the people who care for them. To find out more about TCA and their mission please visit tca.org. Thank you, TCA, for your continued support of the KEMI program!
The Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA) announced today an exciting collaboration with XBTV to present the XBTV Aftercare Film Festival. The Film Festival will launch July 1st as part of an ongoing industry effort to highlight the importance of horse aftercare as part of the ecosystem of Thoroughbred racing.
Themed “The Importance of Thoroughbred Aftercare and Accreditation to the Thoroughbred Racing and Breeding Industries,” the Film Festival will be open exclusively to students taking part in the Kentucky Equine Management Internship (KEMI), University of Arizona’s Race Track Industry Program (RTIP), or Godolphin Flying Start (GFS). Students are being challenged to create unique video content of no more than three minutes that will bring to life the importance of Thoroughbred aftercare for the next generation of horsemen and horsewomen.
Submissions will be reviewed and judged by a panel of media professionals. The submissions will be available to the public to watch at https://filmfreeway.com/festival/XBTV, XBTV and various social media channels at the conclusion of the Film Festival.
As a subsidiary of The Stronach Group, XBTV delivers superior racing and industry content to viewers around the world. As sponsor of the XBTV Aftercare Film Festival, XBTV aims to engage millennial audiences while raising awareness for the issue of thoroughbred aftercare.
“The Stronach Group is an industry leader in world-class racing and is passionately committed to horse care and horse aftercare,” said Nicole Stronach Walker, TAA Advisory Board Member. “All of those that are involved in the industry, be it breeder, owner or track operator, have a responsibility to the horse to ensure a lifetime of happiness on and off the track. The XBTV Aftercare Film Festival initiative is a great way for younger horse racing enthusiasts to raise awareness and lead the way for future growth in aftercare.”
“The Film Festival is an exciting initiative by the TAA and it was very generous of them to extend an invitation to participate to Godolphin Flying Start trainees” said Clodagh Kavanagh, General Manager of the Godolphin Flying Start program. “There are a number of trainees that have shown an interest in entering the competition and I wish them and the other competitors the best of luck with their submissions.”
“KEMI is thrilled to be part of this exciting contest,” said Leslie Janecka, KEMI’s coordinator. “As part of their curriculum within the program, our interns learn not only about the production, care and management of Thoroughbreds, but also the importance of a secondary career for those athletes after their racing careers are over. The aftercare of Thoroughbreds is very important, and we are happy to help educate the public about these horses and the many aftercare options available.”
The winners of the XBTV Aftercare Film Festival will be announced this December as part of the University of Arizona’s Race Track Industry Program Global Symposium on Racing and Gaming, which has been held annually since 1974. Winners will receive a monetary award. 1st place will receive $3,000, 2nd place will receive $1,000 and 3rd place will be awarded $500. A Fan Favorite Award Winner will be awarded $500.
“Giving students, who are tomorrow’s leaders of racing, the opportunity to really dive into the topic will certainly increase their knowledge and passion about aftercare,” said Wendy Davis, the Director of the RTIP. “But just as important, their videos will provide a vehicle for the industry to use for education that can reach far beyond racing’s own circle and create the opportunity to exponentially expand awareness of the care given to our horses.”
“It’s a true honor to have the Global Symposium on Racing and Gaming selected as the venue to not only share the top videos but to name the winner. Attendees from around North America and the globe will be the first to see the productions and take the messages back to their home jurisdictions.”
Follow the work of the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance at thoroughbredaftercare.org, on Facebook here or @tbaftercare on Twitter and Instagram.
About the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance
Based in Lexington, Kentucky, the non-profit Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance accredits, inspects and awards grants to approved aftercare organizations to retire, retrain and rehome Thoroughbreds using industry-wide funding. Along with continued funding from its original partners Breeders’ Cup Ltd., The Jockey Club, and Keeneland Association Inc., the TAA is supported by owners, trainers, breeders, racetracks, aftercare professionals and other industry groups. To date, 64 aftercare organizations supporting more than 180 facilities across the U.S. and Canada have been granted accreditation and received funding from the TAA. To learn more about the TAA, visit thoroughbredaftercare.org.
XBTV is a new digital Ultra HD Horse Racing network providing insight and analysis to give horseplayers a competitive advantage. XBTV is the ultimate online destination for bettors to get insider interviews, morning works, insights, analysis and expert picks from the country’s top handicappers. XBTV features Millie Ball, Jeff Siegel, Aaron Vercruysse, Zoe Cadman and John ‘Johnny D’ DeSantis. XBTV is available free online at XBTV.com on any compatible computer, laptop, tablet, mobile device or smart TV. Viewers can watch video on demand as well as scheduled live racing coverage every weekend. XBTV is owned and operated by The Stronach Group and headquartered at historic Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California.
About The Stronach Group
The Stronach Group (TSG) is an industry leader in world-class horse racing, entertainment and pari-mutuel wagering technology. Within our portfolio of racing and gaming businesses, the Company holds some of the greatest brands in the industry including; Santa Anita Park, “The Great Race Place”; Pimlico Race Course, home of the legendary Preakness Stakes; Gulfstream Park, one of Florida’s newest entertainment destination centers, and home to the $16-million Pegasus World Cup Invitational, the world’s richest thoroughbred horse race; Laurel Park; Golden Gate Fields; Portland Meadows; and Rosecroft Raceway. TSG is an industry leader in pari-mutuel technology through its subsidiaries AmTote and Xpressbet and is a major distributor of horse racing content to a global audience through Monarch Content Management. The award winning Adena Springs is the breeding and training facility of The Stronach Group with stables in Kentucky, Florida and Ontario. For more on The Stronach Group, visit www.stronachgroup.com.
Kentucky Equine Management Internship (KEMI) welcomed fifteen interns to its program this week. Please join us in welcoming these new interns.
Rebecca Bannan – Michigan State University
Kristen Berg – North Carolina State University
Shannel Cacho – Middle Tennessee State University
Paige Gilster – Iowa State University
Alexis Golub – Virginia Tech University
Alana Hamann – University of Maryland
Rachel Miller – Oregon State University
Katie Ott – University of California, Davis
Autumn Petreszyn – University of Maine
Carli Pisano – Sul Ross State University
Sarah Prentice – University of Findlay
Erika Rodriguez Martinez – University of Arizona
Jennie Sites – Oregon State University
Kayci Sperry – Kansas State University
Brianna Wolfe – Delaware Valley University
Welcome new interns!