My RTIP Story: Program Set Owens Up For Success In Godolphin Flying Start - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report
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My RTIP Story: Program Set Owens Up For Success In Godolphin Flying Start

Taylor Owens

Taylor Owens did not pass her childhood years with any certain expectation that she would work with Thoroughbreds. Born in New York and raised largely in Iowa, Owens' family was only peripherally connected to the Thoroughbred racing industry through her father's uncle, who owned and ran a handful of horses at Prairie Meadows.

“Some of my earliest memories as a child are actually of going to Prairie Meadows,” said Owens. “We would go and visit and watch my dad's uncle's horses run, so that is clearly where I caught the bug. From the outside I was a fan and I followed the big names like Zenyatta and Rags to Riches; the big horses.”

In was during those sporadic trips to the track that the seed was planted for Owens. Now, more than a decade later and well-entrenched into her first year as a student in the highly-selective Godolphin Flying Start Thoroughbred Industry Management and Leadership Program, those days of watching from the stands seem very far away.

Owens' childhood admiration for the sport of racing was initially a bit of a conundrum for the budding fan. Unlike many children who grow up with parents or friends working in the industry in states like Kentucky, New York, or California, getting a foot in the door seemed like a daunting prospect. It wasn't until her father came home one day with the news that he'd found a program at the University of Arizona that Owens finally saw her in.

“My dad found out about the Race Track Industry Program (RTIP) when I was in seventh grade and I just knew then that that was where I was going to go,” said Owen. “But it was a long time between then and when I received my acceptance letter.  It was very exciting for me and for my family.

“Thinking back, I actually didn't get involved in the industry at all until 2018 when I started RTIP. The program was the only path I could see into the industry for me. I didn't know how else to get involved.”

Owens leads a horse at Keeneland

With designs to become a Thoroughbred trainer — a goal she still maintains — Owens entered RTIP and gravitated toward the more scientific, equine-centric side of the program.

“RTIP has a business side and an equine side, but they're both equine-focused,” said Owens. “I went in on the equine side so I had more hands-on courses with horses which was what I wanted. All of my courses were geared toward teaching me to manage a track, or a farm, or becoming a trainer. It's very focused in that regard which really makes it unique.

“For me, there were two things that happened in the program. First, it was a lot of exposure and networking. They host the racing symposium in Tucson every year and the students are part of that and help run it. You see so many facets of the business and meet so many industry professionals. One year we went up to Kentucky and went to Hagyard, visited trainers, and just got to see the nuts and bolts of it all. Then, through my courses, I was able to sit in on conversations with really powerful people in the industry like Drew Fleming or Lonny Powell — that is huge. I feel like you really grow as a professional individual being put in these situations and interactions with people high up in the industry. It makes you bring yourself to a higher standard and that has definitely helped me going forward.”

Owens graduated from RTIP in 2020 with her animal science degree and was later chosen among 12 participants for Godolphin Flying Start. The program has, and will continue to take her around the world as she works toward her goal of becoming a trainer.

“We started in Ireland at Kildangan in Kildare, Ireland, last fall” said Owens. “We transferred to Newmarket at the end of October. Then we came to Kentucky Jan. 1 and we will do externships in June and I will be in Australia by mid-August. It's such a rewarding experience to travel and see the industry through an international lens is so cool.”

With so much ahead of her Owens can't help but look behind to her time at RTIP and credits the program with having helped her build the foundation she'll take with her on her travels and into her new career.

“Coming on to a program like Flying Start, you really have to be immersed in the industry and a lot of the stuff I learned at RTIP set me up for this,” said Owens. “I needed to be able to work with horses, but I needed to know how different organizations worked together in the industry at large. The program really gave me the foundation that I used to get to the next level.

“Whether you already have connections to the industry or come in brand new to RTIP like I was, there are so many success stories. I wouldn't be working to start my career in this industry if I didn't love it and didn't believe it. There are so many enthusiastic young people like me working with me. We want to make the industry thrive because we know how good it can be. We've seen it and we will get there.”

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