UofL sets students up for horse business success

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The nation will turn its eyes to Churchill Downs this weekend as Louisville becomes the center of the horse racing world.

What might go overlooked, though, are horse racing classes right down the street at UofL.

Terri Burch leads the school's equine program, and she's been a part of it for 30 years.

"We do not teach anyone how to ride," Burch said. "I've seen it all; been there. Done it all."

It's a small program at the school, accepting around 15 students a year.

Freshman Carson Tarter made the cut this year.

"I didn't want to go into vet school or anything like that," Tarter said. "I definitely think that people come from the business side of it, the uniqueness
of it."

Business is where UofL separates itself. It's the only equine program in the nation based out of an accredited business school.

"Everything else is geared toward the business and how to operate the business so that when you go out you can have a better position than a stall mucker," Burch said.

The program recently increased its marketing efforts, highlighting the business program and its famous neighbor, Churchill Downs.

"I take them to the races with me, teach them how to handicap," Burch said.

Burch has an impressive streak, hitting a four-horse boxed trifecta six years in a row at the Derby and doing the same thing four years in a row at
the Breeder's Cup. She's still waiting on post positions to pick her final favorites this year.

Since the new marketing, the small program has quadrupled information requests.

It stands out being 50 percent out-of-state students, with some from overseas. Leah Vasquez came from Pennsylvania. She started riding at age 4.

"I'm pretty sure I saw a movie when I was little," Vasquez said. "I was like, 'Oh that looks like fun.'"

Vasquez is only a sophomore but is already working with trainer Dale Romans.

"I want to get into the racing aspect of the equine world," Vasquez said. "I think this is the right place for me to be to make those connections and luckily I have made a few of those already."

Grads have gone straight to jobs at Churchill Downs and tracks across the country.

"The horse industry right now is on an uptick itself so it helps us get our graduates out," Burch said.

At this rate, it might just outgrow its classrooms and its barns.

"I really would love for more people to come join us because we have the best teachers and it's like a little family," Tarter said.

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