As stated in our previous post, most people think of horses when they think of Kentucky. The area in and around the city of Lexington is covered with picturesque equestrian farms. Horses are revered here, with some of the barns they are housed in being more beautiful than the mansions that surround them.
Queen Elizabeth II keeps breeding stock at Lane’s End Farms, seen in the above photo. She has visited here several times since the 1980’s. The entire area is a picture of serenity, complete with rolling meadows, miles of well-maintained fences and narrow, winding roads.
So when Diana’s cousin Reed replied to a Facebook post I had made….saying for us to basically hurry up and get there because the ponies were running at Keeneland….well, we were intrigued. We had no idea what Keeneland was, but we knew if Reed was excited about it, we would be in line to have a good time. 🙂
The name Keeneland encompasses several aspects of a gorgeous 147 acre piece of Lexington farmland that was once owned by a gentleman named Jack Keene. In the 1930’s, Mr. Keene was a key individual behind the organization of the Keeneland Association. This was a non-profit horse auction and racing entity that was interested in promoting the world of thoroughbred horses. The facility was opened in 1936, and is now on the National Register of Historic Places. The Breeder’s Cup was run here in 2015, which was won by American Pharoh in his last race, which made him the first horse to ever win the Grand Slam (the Triple Crown and the Breeder’s Cup). The picturesque track was used as a backdrop for most of the scenes in the movie Seabiscuit, as it has changed so little since it opened in 1936. The sales side of the Keeneland Association runs the world’s largest horse auction in January, September and November. And the racing side hold meets in April and October. This year’s fall meet ran from October 7 through October 29.
On Saturday, October 15, we drove from Campbellsville to Versailles, Kentucky to meet up with Reed, his wife Emily, and Diana’s cousin Jerry (Reed’s brother) who was also in town for a visit. From Reed and Emily’s home, we drove some of Kentucky’s narrow, curvy roads to Keeneland. Along the way, Reed and Emily bought us lunch at Wallace Station Deli and Bakery…very tasty. Thank you both!
Our first stop was the paddock. That’s where the horses are paraded around, one at a time, for the bettors to examine each race entrant. Reed filled us in on how to read a race program, how to place a bet, and so on. This particular entrant is named Luvthatmustang. As the horses came around, I spotted a horse named Vanilla Score that was not favored at all…having 12 to 1 odds. Still, the horse seemed ‘bothered’ to me. That, and the fact I like vanilla…well, I dropped $2 each for it to win/place/show.
Holy cow…that’s my yellow horse in front on the backstretch! Danged if my horse didn’t come in second, which was just fine with me. 😎 I came away with enough money to play the rest of the day on the winnings, which was nice!
Following are a few photos from the day:
The manicured hedge spelling out Keeneland in the infield.
The bugler calls the horses to post in the gate.
The lead horses returning from the start of one of the races. These are the horses that accompany the racers to the gate to help keep them calm.
Headed to the wire!
Emily and Diana discussing their mutual love of teaching during a break in the action, while Reed checks his race program.
Reed and Jerry deciding who to place their money on.
This was definitely a huge social event with people dressed every which way.
Lots of coats and ties…
…but also plenty of folks dressed casually.
All in all, it was a great way to spend a beautiful day. Thanks to Reed for taking the mystery out of thoroughbred racing for us. 😀 We look forward to returning to Keeneland again someday!
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