A self-proclaimed military brat, Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino General Manager Michael Kintner moved around a lot growing up.
Kintner was born in Texas, where his father attended flight school. The family moved all over the country and around the world, including 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 riding lessons and discovered that he was a very good horseman. After a few years, his family moved to Turkey, where they rented a horse. His love for horseback riding grew, and when the family returned to the United States—this time to Kansas, where he attended the University of Kansas—Kintner noticed a college horseback riding class.
“I was interested,” Kintner said. “So I called my mom and said, ‘Hey, that’s an extra $235 on top of tuition. She sent me the check and I was able to do it. From there, I joined the equestrian team.
Kintner was also on the club team at the University of Kansas and at one time owned two horses. Eventually, the next leg of his riding journey began when his father was transferred to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, where his sister was attending the University of Arizona.
During his freshman year at Kansas, Kintner changed his mind. 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 fulfill his dream.
After talking with his mother about his new direction, she encouraged him to go to the Race Track Industry Program (RITP) at the University of Arizona.
Turns out that was just the ticket for Kintner.
“It was the only program of its kind in the United States,” Kintner said of RITP, which 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 earned a Bachelor of Science in Animal Science. From Tucson, Kintner’s next stop was Santa Anita Park in California, where he worked for nine years, before arriving at Harrah’s Ak-Chin.
Mike Kintner in a nutshell
Son : Mason (16) and Chase (14)
Dog: Kyah (Rhodesian Ridgeback)
Residence: West Chandler
Hobby: Sport, the great outdoors and motorcycling with his sons
Public Service: Kintner is a state-appointed Pinal County board member for First Things First, an Arizona initiative that funds early childhood education. He served as Chairman of the Board for two years.
This story first appeared in the June issue of In Maricopa magazine.