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Taking the Lead and Loving It

Arlington Park Communications | 07/17/2014 #

By:  Frank Marchionne, Lead Guest Services Supervisor

My journey with Arlington began five years ago, when I retired from the corporate world.  I spent 35 years working in sales management in a completely different industry.  I stumbled upon a guest services position at Arlington when I learned of the annual job fair from one of my veteran group get-togethers.  Then, two years ago, I was moved into a supervisor role on the guest services team when those positions were created. 

In my position, I have the unique opportunity to see people whom I haven’t seen in years – high school classmates, former business associates, veterans I toured with.  Having been born and raised in Chicago, it’s natural that this would happen at a place like Arlington!  I had visited a lot before I joined the guest services team, with my dad or brother or with my wife on Friday afternoons.  I never wagered a lot or knew much about it, but once I started here, it was time to brush up on my knowledge.  I spend a lot of time with Arlington University and our wagering hosts.  I write down my questions as they come up during the day and bring them to the experts after my shifts.  It’s a system that’s helped me learn a lot!

I often am asked about how I enjoy my time at Arlington, and my response is always the same – Look at the environment that I get to go to work in every day.  I’m a sports fanatic, and I get to spend my days surrounded by great athletes, both jockeys and Thoroughbreds.  Of the whole racing season though, the day of the Arlington Million has to be my favorite.  On Million Day, we see crowds who are interested in the sport and the racing taking place – the racing is the focus, and I say it’s the best day of the year to be at Arlington.

I’ll end with one of my favorite Arlington memories, a story from our 2013 season.  A family joined us for the day with their 11-year-old twins, both of whom are blind.  The family was looking forward to giving their children the opportunity to enjoy some new sounds and experiences.  When we heard about the family, we were able to get them all down to the winner’s circle to feed mints to the outriders, to pet them and to touch their hooves, and they even got to sit on the horses.  We could see the joy in the family’s faces, and it’s those moments that make me so incredibly appreciative to be where I am today.