The University of Kentucky Office of Nationally Competitive Awards has announced that 2019 equine science and management and animal sciences graduate Julie Witt has been named one of this year’s 12 recipients of the Godolphin Flying Start scholarship, a prestigious two-year thoroughbred industry management and leadership program. Witt is one of only two participants selected from the U.S. with the other 10 men and women hailing from Ireland, Australia, France, Japan, Argentina and the United Kingdom.
Godolphin Flying Start offers participants experience in management operations and leadership training in the global thoroughbred industry with phases in County Kildare, Ireland; Newmarket, United Kingdom; Sydney, Australia; and Dubai, as well as Kentucky. The course is accredited by University College Dublin Michael Smurfit Business School as a graduate certificate in management. Fifty percent of the program’s graduates have gone on to work globally as managers or CEOs in the industry’s media, racing, breeding, bloodstock, sales, consultancy, veterinary or marketing fields.
The daughter of Joe and Nancy Witt of Freehold, New Jersey, Witt was a member of UK’s Lewis Honors College. She earned her bachelor’s degrees in equine science and management and animal sciences, as well as a minor in agricultural economics, from UK’s College of Agriculture, Food and Environment in May.
Horses have been Witt’s passion since she was a small child.
“I was diagnosed with refractive amblyopia, a form of lazy eye, in my right eye in kindergarten, and had lost enough vision that I was considered legally blind. I had to patch to correct my vision, and my parents used riding lessons as an incentive to get me to patch more willingly. I started riding around right before I turned 6 years old and have been trying to find any way to get around horses ever since.”
Witt grew up riding lower-level hunter and equitation show horses, re-starting off-the-track thoroughbreds with her riding trainer, working at local horse shows, and going to the racetrack with her family. At 15, she started shadowing a racetrack veterinarian at Monmouth Park, and continued to do so in the summers throughout high school.
With an undeniable love of horses, it is not surprising Witt’s trail led her to UK for its equine program and location in the heart of horse country. Once arriving in the Bluegrass, her interest in the thoroughbred industry grew and she decided to take advantage of all the opportunities UK and Lexington had to offer.