The largest racing conference in the United States will get under way next week in Tucson, Ariz., at a time when racing is facing an inflection point in its modern history.The 46th Global Symposium on Racing, organized and administered by the Race Track Industry Program at the University of Arizona, will hold nonstop panels Tuesday and Wednesday, with many focused on racing&rsquo;s most pressing problem &ndash; animal welfare. The Tuesday slate is dominated by the issue, with six of the eight panels either directly or indirectly addressing equine safety topics and their impact on the sport.Throughout 2019, the U.S. racing industry has operated off of its back foot, as a spate of deaths at Santa Anita Park in Southern California early in the year set the stage for racing&rsquo;s critics to mount a sustained and energetic campaign against the sport. Though handle numbers have yet to show a significant negative impact from the criticism, racing executives throughout the United States are grappling with the appropriate responses to the attacks, as tracks and racing organizations scramble to put in place more effective safety measures and mount a response to the concerns in a world in which animal welfare issues have become more and more important.The Tuesday slate includes two panels on racing surfaces, one focusing on natural racetracks and the other on synthetics. Jennifer Durenberger, The Jockey Club steward at the New York Racing Association tracks, will give a presentation on &ldquo;Horse Racing&rsquo;s Social License to Operate.&rdquo; Another panel will discuss the safety measures implemented this year at a number of tracks, and another will deal with &ldquo;How to Manage Racing&rsquo;s Message in the Media.&rdquo;On Wednesday, the slate changes in topic and tone, with presentations on how grades are assigned to stakes races, the gradual evolution of breed registries toward digital identification and certificates, and the ways in which racing can capitalize on the ever&#45;expanding need for television networks to obtain rights to live sporting events. Other panels will look at the needs of horseplayers and the recent reopening of Colonial Downs in Virginia.On both Tuesday and Wednesday, panels will discuss ways to expand the ranks of owners, horseplayers, and horses, when the industry is facing pressure on all three fronts.The conference will take place at a difficult time for both the administration of the RTIP and its students. Two weeks ago, the program&rsquo;s associate coordinator, Liz Bracken, died at the age of 52 of ovarian cancer. Bracken, a graduate of the program and a former executive with NYRA, joined the program in 2013, and she was an enthusiastic supporter of the program&rsquo;s students.Editor&rsquo;s note: Matt Hegarty is an alumnus of the RTIP.