Keeneland race course is a Lexington tradition. The track hosts live horse racing only twice per year; once in the spring (April) and once in the fall (October). These are the spring and fall meets of Keeneland and something many Lexington residents and tourists look ahead to on their calendars each year. Growing up in Lexington, I visited my first time when I was sixteen years old and I've tried to make at least one day of racing for each meet ever since.
As a start to my fall vacation from work, we had some family from my mom's side come into town to help her with some home renovations and just visit for a week or so. Fortunately, they were here just in time to take a trip out to Keeneland for a chilly day of Saturday racing.
Keeneland is a beautiful place with tree-lined entrance streets and old stone buildings. It's the epitome of Kentucky horse racing tradition. Although the Kentucky Derby is held each year at Kentucky's Churchill Downs race course in Louisville, many would likely argue that Keeneland is the true ambassador of horse racing and sales in Kentucky. According to a 2009 ratings system for 65 thoroughbred tracks in North America instituted by the Horseplayers Association of North America, Keeneland ranks #1 in the top 10 tracks in the country.
While I love the beauty of the grounds, race course and people at Keeneland, no good race day would be complete without a couple of wins on which to hang your hat. I actually had a pretty fortunate day on this visit. We only stayed for 3 races, but I came out ahead hitting exactas in all three. The last of these turned out to be a pretty sweet payout!
All gambling aside, I think Keeneland is as much of a social event as it is a gambling destination. Sure we all tend to put some money down on the races throughout the day, but I think for the most part we all tend to plan trips in groups and often get dressed up for the occasion (this visit was not an example of "dressing up" for the races). It's an opportunity to share a unique social experience with friends and family as well as enjoy some great food and drink.
This visit was a chilly one with highs not much above the low 50s. It made for a short day for us and the family. I think everyone really enjoyed seeing these horses tearing up the track at breakneck speeds and I know I enjoyed sharing the experience with family who haven't often been able to visit our "old Kentucky home".
Are you a horse racing fan? What's your favorite track? Been to Keeneland lately? Tell me all about it in the comments!