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College News

UK alum brings Thoroughbred racing dreams to life

UK alum brings Thoroughbred racing dreams to life

UK alum brings Thoroughbred racing dreams to life

Emily Pendergest, a University of Kentucky graduate, is living her horse racing dreams.

Lexington, Ky.—

A passion for horses and a love of the sport have drawn countless people to Thoroughbred racing. Emily Pendergest, a University of Kentucky Equine Science and Management graduate, is realizing her passion as she takes on a new role as Keeneland's Community Relations Coordinator.  

In her position, Pendergest plays a pivotal role connecting the racetrack with all ages of the local community, forging bonds and creating experiences with a desire to leave lasting positive impressions. Her responsibilities include event planning, promotions and ensuring Keeneland remains an integral part of the horse racing community. 

Her journey from a budding equine enthusiast to a figure at one of the world's most prestigious racetracks is a tale of dedication, mentorship and the power of education. 

“I’m extremely blessed to be in this new position, I can’t believe this isn’t a dream,” Pendergest said. “I love helping involve community members, especially children. We have several youth events, such as our kid’s club. They are the next generation of racing fans.” 

Throughout the racing season, Keeneland hosts a series of promotional events to create memorable experiences for racegoers. Pendergest helps plan and execute events, such as "Make a Wish Day" and "College Scholarship Day."  

Her love affair with horses began at an early age. Growing up in Kentucky, she was surrounded by the equestrian world's rich culture and traditions. This fascination with horses and racing led her to pursue a degree in equine studies within UK Ag Equine Programs at the Martin-Gatton College of Agriculture, Food and Environment

Initially a pre-veterinary student, she switched paths to work more closely with the racing community. As a student, her passion for horses only deepened. She immersed herself in the world of equine education, gaining a comprehensive understanding of the industry, from hands-on horse care and training to the sales side of the Thoroughbred industry. This knowledge was invaluable as she embarked on her professional journey. 

Mentorship is one of the key factors that set Pendergest on her path to success. While at UK, she worked with accomplished professionals who shared her passion for horses and were eager to guide her.  

Savannah Robin, UK Ag Equine Programs internship coordinator, was one of the many pivotal people in Pendergest’s growth.  

“Her transition from a pre-vet track to her role at Keeneland underscores the importance of exploring diverse opportunities within the equine field,” Robin said. “She embodies the spirit of adaptability and discovering one's true passion.” 

Robin, known for her dedication to student development, pushed Pendergest out of her comfort zone, encouraging her to take on challenges and expanding her skill set. Robin said thanks to Pendergest, one of the state's most important equine documents currently in circulation came to fruition. 

“One of Emily’s significant accomplishments includes her involvement in the Kentucky Equine Survey, highlighting her dedication to advancing the industry's understanding and impact,” she said. “Emily's primary role at Keeneland is to build bridges between the racetrack and the community. She understands the importance of community engagement.” 

As Pendergest continues her work at Keeneland, she remains committed to fostering community engagement and connecting the racetrack with the hearts of horse racing fans. Her role is not just a job; it's a lifelong dream come true, a dream she is determined to share with the world, one race at a time. 

“I don't think I could have gotten this far without UK Ag Equine Programs,” Pendergest said. “There are a lot of people who want you to succeed. I owe so much to the program and its people for making this dream become a reality.” 

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The Martin-Gatton College of Agriculture, Food and Environment is an Equal Opportunity Organization with respect to education and employment and authorization to provide research, education information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function without regard to economic or social status and will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, creed, religion, political belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy, marital status, genetic information, age, veteran status, physical or mental disability or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity.

Alumni Equine Students

Contact Information

Scovell Hall Lexington, KY 40546-0064