Keeneland is a local horse racing track that is the most beautiful and traditional setting in the race world. Sure, everyone has heard of Churchill Downs where the Derby is held, but all Kentuckians know that Keeneland is the better and more beautiful setting. Little Miss and I drove up from Charlotte yesterday to spend the week with my parents, and this morning we went to Keeneland to watch the horses get their morning exercise. The top thoroughbred horses in the world are in residence here during the two race months of the year – April and October. Once Keeneland goes dark, the horses move on to Churchill Downs.
Watching the horses get their morning exercise is a well-kept secret, and it is free. If you have the heart to get up before the sun comes up, you can stand right beside the track and watch the horses race by. We left the house at 6 a.m. and were track side 20 minutes later.
It was till dark when we got there, but the horses were out on the track already.
The thrill of it was that we were the only spectators there watching this wonderful activity.
The jockeys and exercisers were so close to us that they talked to us as they rode by. That was thrilling. We could hear the horses snorting, see their breath, see their skin glisten from the sweat, and hear the exercisers’ conversations.
It is always cold on these April and October mornings at Keeneland. We bundled up with winter coats, blankets, and even had hand warmers for our gloves. It was all worth it, though because I haven’t done this activity with my mother since I was a little girl. It was great to be there with Mom and Little Miss.
After we spent time watching the horses, we walked back to the car through the paddock that is filled with thousands and thousands of people on race day. We then went to the Track Kitchen and had a good ole Kentucky breakfast.
The Track Kitchen restaurant is a basic breakfast and lunch spot where the food is served cafeteria style. People love it because they get a chance to have a meal right along with the owners, trainers, exercisers, and jockeys. The short drive to the restaurant goes through the barn area, and they actually have a crossing guard to stop cars when the horses need to cross the street. The horses definitely get the right of way. It’s a great way to see the behind the scenes activities of a famous horse racing track.
If you are a lover of horses, racing, or travel, planning a trip to Lexington to visit to learn about one of our most important industries would be a real treat.