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From Student to Professor
By: Jerry Turner, Arlington University Professor
When I moved to Arlington Heights in 1987, it was right in the midst of Arlington Park being constructed. This incredible feat naturally caught my eye, and when I learned that Arlington Park was a horse racing track, I wanted to find out everything I could about it. I’m the father to two girls, who at the time were young, and we began spending our Saturday mornings at Arlington. I learned all about the sport of kings and became a regular at the track, getting to know exercise riders, trainers and an assortment of others who are veterans of the industry. Not only did these newfound friends give me some behind-the-scenes looks at the world of racing, but I also had the opportunity to get a jockey’s perspective, as Juvenal Diaz lived in my neighborhood at the time.
With retirement in my future in 2012, I had my sights set on a seasonal position at my favorite place – Arlington. I spent 38 years doing sales and marketing for Littelfuse and another 10 years with the federal government. Once my time with these groups had expired, it was time to spend my days doing work that was closer to home, both literally and figuratively. I became a wagering host in 2012 and retained that position in 2013, when Arlington first instituted Arlington University. This year, I was moved to a role as an Arlington University Professor. I spend my time teaching our Arlington guests the ins and outs of racing and guiding them through the races and wagering options.
As a dedicated Arlington and racing fan for 25 years, there are a lot of happy memories associated with my time here. One of my favorites is from the Cigar race in 1995. I knew Cigar’s trainer, and he offered me the opportunity to see him up close and personally. I got to walk right into the barn, which was a very incredible experience. These days, my favorite horse to watch is The Pizza Man. Not only is he fun to watch, but he’s now a world-class horse! And as an employee, Million Days always make for great memories. It’s a great feeling to see racing fans coming together for such a big day.
Working at Arlington gives me the opportunity to meet so many interesting people, from fans to staff members to those within the horse racing community. I couldn’t see myself not working at Arlington during the summer; this position and this place are part of my life now. It never feels like going to work, which is one of the best things anyone can expect of their job.