Follow Us on Social Media:
Follow Us on Social Media:

Applications for the FTHA’s Kent Stirling Scholarship Program Are Now Available!

Haga clic aquí para obtener instrucciones en español.


The Florida Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (FTHA) is proud to announce the continuation of the Kent Stirling Scholarship Program in 2023 for qualified, Florida-licensed backstretch employees at Gulfstream Park and/or their direct dependents. The program is designed to further the student’s education at the college undergraduate and graduate level. The scholarship may be used at any accredited college, university, community college or trade school and the student is free to pursue any field of study. 

Those eligible include the following and their dependents: Florida-licensed trainer, assistant trainer, foreman, groom, exercise rider, pony person or hot walker, racing and working full time at Gulfstream Park. The scholarship candidate must be a year-round resident of Florida.

Scholarships are available for students at the undergraduate and graduate level. Household income may not exceed $75,000 annually, except under extenuating circumstances. The deadline for submission of an application to the FTHA office is Wednesday July 5, 2023. Late applications will not be accepted.


Each application will be reviewed by the Kent Stirling Scholarship Committee. Incomplete applications or applications that do not meet the eligibility requirements will not be considered.

The student must submit his/her most recent high school or college transcripts verifying that he/she is a qualified high school graduate or current college student in good standing.

This is a need-based scholarship program and may be renewed annually if the student retains his/her academic good standing throughout the academic year. The Scholarship Committee will review each student’s file on an annual basis.

Before the Fall semester begins, scholarship monies will be distributed directly to the institution. However, the student must first provide proof of enrollment and a copy of his/her tuition invoice directly to the FTHA offices.


If available, each applicant should submit a copy of his/her completed Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form and a copy of his/her Student Aid Report (SAR). The student is required to submit copies of his/her parent’s or guardian’s tax return for the current year.


Personal interviews with the Kent Stirling Scholarship Committee may be required of NEW applicants.


A written essay of no more than 250 words must be submitted which describes the applicant’s future goals and why this scholarship is important to attaining those goals.

Further, a letter of recommendation from someone who knows the student well and can offer insights into his/her potential is required. This person must not be the student’s parent or guardian.


Mail completed application forms and any supporting material to:

Florida THA
Kent Stirling Scholarship Committee
P.O. Box 3507
Hallandale Beach, FL 33008

Alternatively, applications may be delivered in person to the FTHA office at Gulfstream Park. Office hours are Monday — Friday 8:00 am—4:00 pm. Saturday 8:00 am—12:00 pm. Closed on Sundays.

The applicant will be notified of the Committees decision by July 31st .

Any further questions contact Kimberly in the FTHA office at (954) 457-3516.

To download/print the application, click here.

Haga clic aquí para obtener instrucciones en español.


In 2022, the Florida Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association announced that its Scholarship Program would be named in honor of Kent Stirling, who served as the executive director of the horsemen’s organization, then the FHBPA, for 20 years.

“This is a fitting tribute to someone who devoted his life to our industry and to our people,” FTHA President Joe Orseno said. “He was diligent in his efforts on behalf of the owners and trainers, but the backstretch workers who most benefit from the Scholarship Program held a special place in his heart.”

The Kent Stirling Scholarship Program awards grants for tuition, books and other educational expenses to the trainers and backstretch workers at Gulfstream Park who are licensed and live year-round in Florida, and to their immediate dependents. The grants can be used at any accredited college, university, community college or trade school.

More than $140,000 in scholarships have been awarded since the program was started in 2017. Current scholarship students are pursuing careers as diverse as oceanographer, clinical psychologist, registered nurse, athletic trainer and dialysis technician.

Stirling, who sadly passed away in 2017, was a trainer for 20 years before taking on the role of executive director in 1995. An authority on therapeutic medications, he was an advocate for horsemen and backstretch workers on the state and national level.

“The honor of having the Scholarship Program named after him would have thrilled Kent,” said his wife, Sheri Holmes Stirling, the Vice President of Administration at Gulfstream Park. “He worked tirelessly for the betterment of backside workers, but also for the betterment of all around him.  He believed that education elevated the mind and soul. Kent’s entire family and I are thrilled with this recognition of his time and dedication to the FHBPA.”