What is KTC "KIDS TO COLONIAL"
The Kids to Colonial Program at Colonial Downs, founded by Diana McClure, is the only one of its kind in the country. The Virginia HBPA provides housing near the track for the interns and chaperones. Colonial Downs embraces the KTC interns and offers help whenever it’s needed. We are fortunate to have a safe backstretch that serves as the perfect place to introduce students to life at the racetrack.
When KTTC, Kids to the Cup, was running we used this remarkable program as a source to draw intern candidates. Unfortunately, with the passing of it's founder, Trudy McCaferry, the club was discontinued. Many of the original members are still friends, work in the racing industry, and are helpful in recruiting new interns for the current program.
HPBA Executive Director Frank Petramalo has always been a guide for the interns, while also utilizing their help throughout the meet for various HBPA efforts. Duties have varied over the years, including trophy presentations, helping organize and run the very successful Groom Elite Program, delivering lunches to backstretch employees, gathering horsemen surveys, serving as horsemen liaisons during the biggest days at Colonial, shuttle runs to the airport, HBPA giveaway deliverers and ambassadors for the sport on all levels.
While the program provides interns with a great start at the racetrack in a safe environment with willing trainers, it also includes a glimpse into what’s involved in running the front side of a racetrack. The various jobs in the racing office and the front side are open doors to the interns, so they can see the many job positions the track can offer that might interest the interns for a future in horse racing.
The program began in 2001 with Nikki Sherman and Amy Schuver. The program, like the girls, have come a long way in ten years. Amy is now a vet student in Tennessee, and Nikki is finishing her college degree while working as a freelance photographer and journalist in the racing industry. Nikki holds an assistant trainer’s license, and with her parents she has owned several racehorses. Nikki stated at the conclusion of her first Internship, "I worked for Jeremy Gillam and I know it's not the glamorous part of the job, but i started by learning how to muck my first stall, I knew i loved horse racing, but i want to learn every part of the industry so i can make an educated career choice in the future. This is a tough business, hard work and long hours, now i really know what is involved and i know how i can be a part of it".
Later, Amber Carlisle began work as a groom for Speedy Smithwick and served as a patrol judge in the afternoons. She’s now employed full time by the racing office and also as the horseman’s liaison at Colonial Downs.
Former intern Jonathan Horowitz from California has enjoyed success as a race caller at several tracks, including Scotland, while pursuing a college degree. He has just completed his master’s degree at the University of Maryland and is currently the race caller at Arapahoe Park in Denver, Colorado.
KTC graduate Ashley Gibson has held many positions in the racing industry while attending the University of Kentucky. She currently works for a nonprofit, teaching troubled children and teens to work with off track thoroughbreds safely and efficiently.
Janey Adams was a KTC intern, and has already earned her trainer’s license and her first win at the young age of 19.
Brandon Benson was already an accomplished racetrack photographer before he joined KTC. By the age of 16 his photos made the cover for The Bloodhorse, Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred and the condition book at Colonial Downs. During the off season in Va, Brandon worked for NYRA photography and his photographs appeared regularly in The Bloodhorse, Thoroughbred Times and Daily Racing Form. Sadly, his life was cut short by diabetes and the Virginia HBPA has named a scholarship in his honor.
The 2010 interns, Elizabeth Rogers and Marshall Blevins, are both working towards careers in the racing industry while attending college. Elizabeth is a student at the University of Arizona’s Race Track Industry Program and she is planning on a career as a trainer after graduation.
Marshall Blevins attends the University of Kentucky with a major in Equine Management. She has interned at Colonial Downs for three years and through KTC she’s been given the foundation and connections to work with Triple Crown winning trainer William Turner, Derby winning trainer Graham Motion and Chesapeake Farm in Lexington, Kentucky. For the 2011 meet Marshall is head of the intern program while working as a groom for leading trainer Hamilton Smith and will be a mentor for our newest intern Madison Scott.
There is no doubt that the KTC program is fortunate to have the support of the VHBPA, the many trainers who have given their time and patience to the interns, the chaperones and Colonial Downs for securing a safe and friendly environment. The chance to get their foot in the door, to get a great head start in an industry that’s so hard to break into, is a tremendous opportunity provided by KTC, the VHPBA and Diana McClure.
Read the intern testimonials to learn more about this progam.
Anyone interested in being a KTC intern at Colonial Downs should contact Diana McClure.