Online turf manager certification program makes successful launch to international audience
With turf racing events gaining in popularity on the racing calendar in North America, the newly launched Racecourse Manager Certification Program: Turfgrass as an Equine Sports Surface, was viewed online by nearly 100 individuals from around the world during its June debut. The continuing education program stems from the combined efforts of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA), the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment (UK) and the Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory (RSTL).
Representatives from more than a dozen North American Thoroughbred racetracks as well as officials from the Breeders’ Cup, British Horseracing Authority, the Hong Kong Jockey Club, Sao Paulo Jockey Club in Brazil, and Singapore Turf Club viewed the online webinars.
“We were very pleased with the interest from the horse industry at large,” said Mick Peterson, Ph.D., director of the Racetrack Safety Program at UK and executive director of the RSTL. “The certification program is an excellent example of the land-grant university mission — to take research-based, practical information to the public so they can put it into practice. I’m pleased that our audience, which grew each session, will have this material to help them understand and make sound decisions about their equine surfaces, whether it’s a turf racing surface or training gallop, a polo field or an eventing course.”
Launched with three live-streamed webinars, the program provided intensive research-based education for horse industry professionals seeking to more fully understand recent trends and research on equine surfaces and the broad impacts of surface on equine performance. The Racecourse Manager Certification Program curriculum is designed for those already engaged in careers with turf surface maintenance. Participating Thoroughbred racetracks that enroll their personnel will receive credit toward future accreditation by the NTRA Safety & Integrity Alliance. Video archives of the presentations can be viewed for free on the UK Ag Equine Programs YouTube channel and information about the program is available at https://www.engr.uky.edu/research-faculty/departments/biosystems-agricultural-engineering/extension/racecourse-manager-certification-program.
UK will be administering a certification program tied to the program. The fee to take the certificate test is $50, and email notification will be sent when the testing portion for the certificate launches in July.
“The online turf courses were excellent. Technical, practical and scientific topics were discussed. It also gave us the opportunity to see what is happening at other racetracks and how others are managing their procedures in different types of climate,” said Paulo Nania, racing surfaces engineer at Woodbine Entertainment in Toronto, Canada.
Providing racetrack superintendents and equine facility managers with information to help address the increased pressure on equine turf surfaces in North America was a main focus of the webinars. The three live-streamed sessions included:
“Selection of Turf for Climate Zones,” (Mike Goatley, Ph.D., professor and extension turfgrass specialist, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University; Gregg Munshaw, Ph.D., director of agronomy for Pratum Seed Company; Elizabeth Guertal, Ph.D., Department of Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences, College of Agriculture Auburn University; Logan Freeman, MTC Board member and golf course superintendent at Mountain Branch Golf Club in Joppa, Maryland; Michael D. Boekholder; and Geoffrey Rinehart, turf management lecturer, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Maryland).
“Cultivation of Turf Compaction and Wear,” (Jim Pendergest, general manager at The Thoroughbred Center; Michael D. Boekholder; Leif Dickinson, superintendent at Del Mar Thoroughbred Club; Sean Gault, consultant and former director of Thoroughbred surfaces at Woodbine; Geoffrey Rinehart, turf management lecturer, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Maryland; Logan Freeman, MTC Board member and golf course superintendent at Mountain Branch Golf Club in Joppa, Maryland; Trey Rogers, PhD, professor, turfgrass research – golf course renovations – Sports Turf and Golf Turf Management Programs; Turfgrass Research, Michigan State University College of Agriculture & Natural Resources; and Elizabeth Guertal, PhD, Department of Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences, College of Agriculture Auburn University).
“Measurement of Turf Condition,” (Sarah Jane Hobbs, Ph.D., equine and human biomechanics, School of Sport and Health Sciences, University of Central Lancashire; Alison Northrop, senior lecturer, Nottingham Trent University; Lars Roepstorff, Swedish University of Agriculture; Elizabeth Guertal, Ph.D., Department of Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences, College of Agriculture Auburn University; and Mick Peterson, PhD, director of the Racetrack Safety Program at UK and Executive Director of the RSTL.
Racecourse Manager Certification Program: Turfgrass as an Equine Sports Surface was sponsored by John Deere, Duralock, Horsemen’s Track and Equipment, Inc. and Equinox Racing.