NYTB, SUNY Cobleskill course kicks off in Saratoga

Wednesday, September 6th, 2023

Students from SUNY Cobleskill take in the scene from the Saratoga Race Course paddock last weekend. Susie Raisher Photo.

The New York Thoroughbred Breeders, Inc., and the State University of New York College of Agriculture and Technology at Cobleskill’s accredited course designed to expose upper-class students in the Animal Science program to various segments of the Thoroughbred industry started last weekend at Saratoga Race Course.

The visit by students focused on the culmination of the breeding and racing industries and allowed for observation of the finished product during morning training and afternoon races. Students received a behind-the-scenes tour of the Oklahoma Training Track Saturday during training hours led by NYTB President Tom Gallo.

The group spent the afternoon at the races, with visits to the paddock, watching from the rooftop and helping the Backstretch Employee Service Team (B.E.S.T.) selected the “Best Turned Out Award” for the day.

Students helped pick the Best Turned Out winner as part of their visit to Saratoga Race Course. Adam Coglianese/NYRA Photo.

“The NYTB, through Tom Gallo’s leadership, provided SUNY Cobleskill students an experience at Saratoga Race Course that was second to none,” said Raymond Whelihan, SUNY Cobleskill Associate Professor in Animal Science who collaborated with Gallo to develop the program. “Time spent observing training at the Oklahoma track, lengthy discussion with a Hall of Fame trainer, comped racetrack entry and seats, a roof top view and the opportunity to enter the paddock and select the groom of the day. Every student was enthusiastic and appreciative. What a wonderful way to kick off the new Thoroughbred Industry course at SUNY Cobleskill.”

The pilot program is offered to 15-20 junior undergraduate students that have met prerequisites. The course, which runs from late August to early December, falls in line with the NYTB’s goals to make outreach with upper-level science students majoring in equine studies and finding the next generation of the industry’s workforce and leaders in racing and breeding.

NYTB President Tom Gallo gave SUNY Cobleskill students a behind-the-scenes tour of the Oklahoma Training Track last week. Susie Raisher Photo.

“When I first introduced the idea of the NYTB educational seminars years ago, along with raising the standard of care and awareness for the general population of the New York breeders, my ultimate goal was to use these seminars for the education of young people who may be interested in coming into our industry,” Gallo said. “This could not have been done without the help of NYTB Executive Director Najja Thompson and our forward-thinking board members. With the help of my longtime friend, Ray Whelihan, we were able to put together a program which not only exposes these students to many different aspects of the horse industry in New York, but also allows them to gain college credits for their participation. These are seniors in college, and they have participated in the equine studies program for the length of their college career. This is a targeted-interested and engaged group of students, who hopefully will find one aspect of our industry interesting enough for them to enter with career expectations. I can’t tell you how happy I am that this is finally happening.”

The course continues through the remainder of the year, with a guided tour of the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame led by legendary announcer Tom Durkin along with a tour Therapeutic Horses of Saratoga in Saratoga Springs in late September. In October, the students will attend the NYTB Annual general membership meeting, educational seminar and the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Fall Sale. The course concludes in November with a tour of a Thoroughbred breeding farm and a visit to Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Saratoga Springs.

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