A self-proclaimed military brat, Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino General Manager Michael Kintner moved around quite a bit growing up.
Kintner was born in Texas, where his father attended flight school. The family moved all over the country and the world, including stops in Delaware, Turkey, and England.
Kintner discovered a love of horses in England.
“I tell people all the time that in America, it seems like everyone has a bike in their garage,” Kintner said. “But in England, it seems like everyone rode ponies.”
As a result, Kintner took horse riding lessons and found he was a pretty good rider. After a few years, his family relocated to Turkey, where they leased a horse. His love for horseback riding grew and when the family moved back to the States — this time to Kansas, where he attended the University of Kansas — Kintner took notice of a horsemanship class at the college.
“I was interested,” Kintner said. “So, I called my mom and said, ‘Hey, it’s an extra $235 on top of the tuition. She sent me the check and I was able to do it. From there, I joined the equestrian team.”
Kintner also rode on the club team at the University of Kansas and, at one point, owned two horses. Eventually, the next step of his equestrian journey began when his father was relocated to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, where his sister was attending Arizona University.
During his junior year at Kansas, Kintner had a change of heart. He explained to his father that he no longer wanted to pursue a career in law or the military. He now wanted to become a horse trainer and was ready to transfer to Missouri to follow his dream.
After talking with his mother about his new direction, she encouraged him to look at the Race Track Industry Program (RITP) at the University of Arizona.
It turns out, that was just the ticket for Kintner.
“It was the only program of its kind in the U.S.,” Kintner said of RITP, which has produced track luminaries like Bob Baffert, who trained the last two Triple Crown winners, American Pharoah (2015) and Justify (2018), and Todd Pletcher, who has trained multiple Kentucky Derby winners.
Kintner transferred to Arizona, where he earned a scholarship and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in animal sciences. From Tucson, Kintner’s next stop was Santa Anita Park in California, where he worked for nine years, prior to his arrival at Harrah’s Ak-Chin.
Mike Kintner at a Glance
Sons: Mason (16) and Chase (14)
Dog: Kyah (Rhodesian Ridgeback)
Residence: West Chandler
Hobbies: Working out, the great outdoors and motorbiking with his sons
Public service: Kintner serves as a state-appointed Pinal County Council member for First Things First, an Arizona initiative that funds early childhood education. He’s served as the board’s chair for two years.
This story was first published in the June edition of InMaricopa magazine.