Hall of Fame jockey Chris McCarron has teamed up with the Kentucky Community Technical College System to create the North American Racing Academy to be housed at the Kentucky Horse Park.
The racing academy, the first of its kind in this country, will initially focus on providing training for jockeys with the long-term goal of establishing career pathways for individuals interested in working in all aspects of the horse racing industry
"This is truly a historic opportunity for all facets of the horse racing industry," said McCarron who will serve as the academy's first director. "Never before has there been a program of this kind in the United States. This academy will allow jockeys-- and eventually all those interested in the horse-racing industry-- to develop career that will allow them to reach training and educational goals they never knew were possible."
McCarron said he developed the idea for the school in 1988 while in Japan speaking at a similar school sponsored by the Japan Racing Association.
NARA's first mission is to develop and operate a racing school that will provide students with the education, training, and experience needed to become skilled in the art of race riding. Additionally, the academy will teach students to be proficient in the care and management of racehorses.
The Kentucky state budget signed by Gov. Ernie Fletcher included $300,000 to KCTCS in 2006-07for the operation of NARA. Private funds raised for NARA will be received by the KCTCS Foundation.
While NARA will be based at the Kentucky Horse Park, KCTCS community and technical colleges will share the two-year curriculum developed by KCTCS and NARA officials as needed on other campuses. The first NARA program is tentatively scheduled to being in the fall of 2006.
"We are currently taking applications, and Chris will interview potential students. This will be a selective program," said Michael McCall, president of KCTCS. "We plan to begin with 15 students and hopefully build the program up."
NARA's long-term goals include the creation of a campus at the Kentucky Horse Park to include a horse barn, indoor arena, training track, classrooms, dormitory, fitness center, kitchen and dining room, and administrative offices and meeting rooms.
KCTCS will initially administer courses of instruction through Bluegrass Community and Technical College. Courses of instruction, certification and degree programs are expected to be developed for jockeys, apprentice jockeys, exercise riders, grooms, breeding farm staff, barn foremen, assistant trainers, trainers, track maintenance, racing officials, racing commissioners, chaplains, racetrack management, and student internships. BCTCS currently offers equine management courses that are being delivered for academic credit at the college.