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Del Mar’s Summer Intern Crew: 'Gator' And The Four Gals

His given name is Jacob Pegram. But he was dubbed ‘Gator’ a day or two after birth as a nod to his grandfather Mike’s racehorse “Letthebiggatorout” and he’s more than cool with it.

And 19 years later, Jacob ‘Gator’ Pegram is one of five college students serving as Del Mar summer interns for the 75th anniversary season, which starts Wednesday (July 18).  Alexis Garske, Taryn Jaczko, Christina Moore and Sybil Rose join Pegram in a class that is tied for second in terms of numbers, in a program initiated in 1977.

Del Mar counted six interns in the summer of 2006 and had five for the 2009 season as the previous highs.

All five of this year’s students will be given exposure to the various departments, areas and aspects of the racetrack during the course of a season which runs through September 5.  Experienced gained could be valuable toward careers in the racing industry, which all five are contemplating.

To do so for Pegram would be carrying on what has become a family tradition. Grandfather Mike Pegram is one of the most prominent owners in Thoroughbred racing. Father Tim once worked for TVG. Uncle Jim is the agent for jockey Martin Garcia. Cousin Brad books mounts for jockeys Mike Smith and Victor Espinoza.

Mike Pegram counts 1998 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Real Quiet, two-time Eclipse Award winner and Hall of Fame member Silverbulletday, and Breeders’ Cup Sprint winners Thirty Slews (1992) and Midnight Lute (2007-08) on a lengthy list of outstanding horses he has owned solely or in part.

Gator can be seen atop his grandfather’s shoulders in many winner’s circle photos – until he became too big and had to relinquish the spot. His favorite winner’s circle, he said, was the one after Midnight Lute’s charge from far back to win going away in the mud at Monmouth Park in 2008.

“I was always into racing and couldn’t really see myself doing anything else,” Gator said. “As a kid I wasn’t into action figures but I would put the covers of Blood-Horse magazine on the floor and race them against each other.”

The sophomore-to-be at Scottsdale (AZ) Community College hopes to expand his knowledge of marketing and “How we can grow our sport a little bit more.”

His goal is to wind up in the University of Arizona’s Race Track Industry Program (RTIP), which has provided the majority of Del Mar’s 68 interns over the years.

Garske, 28, is a senior in that program, on track to graduate in December.

The daughter of Richard and Sandra Garske, she’s a lifelong Del Mar resident, a  graduate of Our Lady of Peace High and frequent racetrack visitor long before this summer.

“My dad started bringing me out to watch morning workouts when I was about six, and year after year I kept after him to do it again because I just loved it,” she said. She was thrilled to see Cigar work out prior to his upset loss to Dare

And Go in the 1996 Pacific Classic and, at age 16, secured employment for a few summers as a stable hand for trainer John Sadler.

Her main area of interest regarding racing is the marketing of the sport.

“As I’ve gotten older, I’ve kind of fallen in love with marketing,” Garske said. “I think I can actually make a difference in marketing. It’s hard to change the nuts and bolts of the sport, but I think you can have a lasting positive effect (through marketing) if you do things right.”

Jaczko, 19, is another local product (Del Mar and Torrey Pines High). Some of her early racetrack experiences were the result of a friendship, started in childhood, with Sarah Fravel, daughter of former DMTC president and general manager, now Breeders’ Cup Ltd. president, Craig Fravel.

“I don’t remember how it started, I just remember coming here all the time,” she said. “I just love horses. I couldn’t tell you why, but I do. I used to ride and I’ve always been fascinated by them.”

A sophomore at the University of Texas, Jaczko is one of the Longhorns’ student on-campus correspondents for the nationwide ESPN-U network. Her interest is in TV sports reporting with the “ultimate dream” of being an on-camera personality, but her experience this summer likely will focus on production and behind-the-scenes aspects of broadcasting.

“I’m happy to do anything they ask me to do,” she said. “I’m loving it, so far.”

Moore, 24, is a native of Noblesville, IN, and a graduate of the University of Illinois who will be entering the final of a two-year graduate studies curriculum in the University of Arizona’s RTIP.

Growing up in rural, small-town Indiana – there were 49 members in her high school graduating class – Moore had a natural interest in horses. Watching Grindstone’s victory in the 1996 Kentucky Derby, she said, steered the focus to the sport of racing. At Illinois, she majored in animal science with a business minor. She worked at the Maywood Park harness track near Chicago and, for part of one summer, at Lane’s End Farm in Versailles, KY.

Married, husband Jeff is a financial advisor with Merrill Lynch in Tucson, Moore hopes to enhance her resume this summer with the intention of a job in racing in the Midwest after completing her graduate studies.

“I’d love to get a job in anything that has to do with racing,” she said. “Someday, if I’m rich, I’d love to own racehorses. We’ll see if that happens.”

Rose, 19, will be a sophomore at Texas Christian University in the fall.  A resident of Paradise Valley, AZ, the daughter of Patricia and Peter Rose has spent the last 10 summers with her family in their vacation home in Del Mar, taking in the races on occasion.

Having competed in hunter/jumper classes aboard horses stabled near the track, Rose is enthused over the opportunity at hand, which came in part through a fellow rider who is a Del Mar Thoroughbred Club employee.

She’s inclined toward majoring in business management at TCU, but doesn’t have to commit until after her sophomore year.

“I really like that we’re getting to experience different areas here,” she said. “I’m still trying to decide what I eventually want to do.”