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RTIP Award Winners Announced

Published: December 10, 2019 8:01 pm ET

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The Race Track Industry Program (RTIP) announced its annual award winners during the 46th Annual Global Symposium on Racing awards luncheon held Tuesday, December 10.

The 2019 Clay Puett Award was awarded to the Cella Family for their outstanding contributions to the racing industry.

“Oaklawn has been a labor of love for my family for 116 years. We believe Oaklawn is the oldest continuously owned sports franchise in America and we are very proud of the fact that today we are one of the brightest spots in racing. With our live season starting in just a few weeks, Oaklawn will begin an exciting new era which includes gaming and sports betting and will soon include a high-rise hotel overlooking our home stretch, convention facilities, restaurant and a spa. But at the center of it all, which is our main focus, is our great sport of Thoroughbred racing,” said Louis Cella.

The 2019 John K. Goodman Alumni Award was awarded posthumously to Liz Bracken, this year’s distinguished alumna for her outstanding contribution to the racing industry.

The contributions Liz made to the racing industry, during her 23 year career–16 years with NYRA in simulcasting and 7 years in various capacities as a racing official–are immense. The impact that she’s made through the successful careers of her students and mentees will never be truly quantified but is best described by one of her recent students: “Liz was an incredibly kind and genuine person who had a positive impact on those who knew her. Liz was more than an instructor, she was a mentor and friend. She always had time for her students and was proud of our successes. I will always treasure my relationship with her. Rest easy Liz, and thank you for sharing your knowledge and believing in me.”

The RTIP’s 2019 Distinguished Student Award, given to the RTIP student who the faculty feels best embodies the qualities and performance that represent the goal of bridging education with opportunity, was earned by two students this year: Alex Sausville and Abel Zander.

Alex Sausville is a true fan of racing and has traveled all across North America visiting racetracks. A stop at Beulah Park fueled his desire to visit every live racetrack in the country. Then a trip to the old Great Barrington Fairgrounds sparked his interest in visiting all the venues of racing's past. In the past six years, he’s been to over 110 different racetracks, of which 60 were still racing. He enjoys expanding his knowledge by learning about all the different segments of the racing industry – all breeds, from wagering to the sales.

Abel Zander has made it his mission to add as many skills to his repertoire as possible while at the University. In ad­dition to his RTIP coursework, he is finishing a second degree in Arabic and a minor in Finance. Add to that a Cybersecurity certification, all while maintaining a 4.0 GPA. A fantasy sports enthusiast, Abel has spent the last two years working to find ways for racing to reach a new fan base using the fantasy medium.

Alex was a double winner this year as he was also awarded 2019 XpressBet Scholarship.

The Turf Publicists of America (TPA) announced Taylor Owens as the winner of their 2019 TPA Scholarship, an award given to an RTIP student with a strong record of academic achievement and an interest in journalism or publicity. Taylor has taken advantage of all the opportunities made available to students to really broaden her options, and her current interests in racing are many. But as she moves forward toward a career in racing – as one of racing’s “insiders” – she sees whatever that position may be, part of it must be promoting the sport. Her goal is to have the public talk about the good things in racing, not the negatives.

For the complete list of RTIP award winners, please visit


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