November 2, 2022
Lexington, KY: The Horse Racing Women’s Summit (HRWS) hosted nearly 100 women at Keeneland for a sold out Meet Up at the Breeders’ Cup on Tuesday morning. The gathering, moderated by Zoe Cadman of XBTV and 1/ST RACING, opened with a message from Shannon Arvin, president and CEO of Keeneland. A panel discussion between Peggy Gdovka, Heather Higgins, and Stefanie Palmieri of the Breeders’ Cup followed.
Arvin, the eighth president of Keeneland Association and the first woman named to the position, had a number of meaningful insights for the group. “I never let myself believe that being a female was a limitation. I was surrounded by men and women who were supportive and believed in me. It’s important to believe in yourself.” She continued, “Live your life in a way that makes a positive impact on other peoples’ lives. And as a female leader, it’s important to lead by example.”
With the world championship event only days away, the Breeders’ Cup panel shared thoughts from the front line. Stefanie Palmieri, Vice President, Events, said, “When you’re in the trenches year over year it’s so important to be working alongside a team that you can call your family.” Heather Higgins, Senior Vice President, Corporate Partnerships, reinforced Arvin’s point addressing career limitations based on gender stating, “Just like any career, you have to prove your capability. It’s not necessarily about being a woman, sometimes it’s about timing.”
Both Palmieri and Peggy Gdovka, Vice President, Retail & Event Activations, reflected on the importance of engaging youth. Gdvoka stated, “Thank goodness we have a lot of young people who share a passion for this sport especially here in Kentucky. I think social media has been a huge driver of reaching new fans,” and Palmieri included, “Focusing on what the youth is inspired by and bringing that art, entertainment, etc to events in racing is a key way to invite new people in.”
After the presentations, attendees engaged in an interactive brainstorming session designed to identify pluses and deltas (areas for change) in the industry. Topics featured aftercare, innovation, transparency, equine safety, diversity, public education, and backstretch support among many others. Vibrant discussions followed around how to foster and grow programs related to these topics.
The Meet Up at the Breeders’ Cup was the first in a series of events to be rolled out as a follow up to the inaugural Horse Racing Women’s Summit. The event was designed to build on the momentum of the inaugural Horse Racing Women’s Summit and cultivate opportunities for women to engage, innovate, and invest.
Follow the Horse Racing Women’s Summit on Twitter and Instagram @racingwmnsummit and sign up for the Horse Racing Women’s Summit email list to be the first to know about future events. Details will also be available at WomeninRacingSummit.com.