During a previous visit to Lexington, KY, we took a Unique Horse Farm Tour with tour guide extraordinaire, Shaun Washington.
He shared with us that we needed to come back to see a horse race at Keeneland. We didn’t know what to expect for our first horse race there and I wanted to share useful tips before you go.
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Keeneland Has A Short Racing Season
Watching a horse race at Keeneland Race Course is a popular tradition in Lexington. Keeneland has a short live racing season on select dates during the month of April in the spring and October in the fall.
What’s amazing is that Keeneland generates the majority of its income from its Thoroughbred auction house. Their auction house has sold more champions and stakes winners than any other sales company.
That’s why they can afford to have a shorter live racing season than most race tracks.
When is the Fall Meet Racing Season for Keeneland in 2023?
The Fall Meet Racing Season for Keeneland is October 6-28, 2023.
*There are no races on Mondays or Tuesdays.
Parking at Keeneland Race Course
When you arrive at Keeneland Race Course there are a few options for parking.
Free Parking at Keeneland Race Course
There is plenty of free parking in several grassy areas that are not far from the entrance.
Free parking in designated paved rows near the Grandstand (Gate 1), in the Meadow and on The Hill (Gates 4 & 5 – Van Meter Road).
FYI- If you opt to take advantage of free parking, the walk might be more of a challenge if you’re wearing high heels.
Clubhouse valet is limited to Club members and their guests only.
Special Permit Parking
There are designated paved rows near the Grandstand for Special Permit Parking. (Gate 2 -Keeneland Blvd.)
Bus and RV Parking
Adjacent to Barns 1-3 there is a designated lot is assigned to busses and RVs. (Gate 1- Man O’ War Entrance).
Ride Drop off and Pickup
Taxis, Lyft and Uber ride users can be dropped of at the top of the Drive-Thru Betting lane (Gate 1- Man O’ War Entrance).
There are shuttles available for guests using free parking and the tailgating lots.
There are golf cart shuttles available to help transport guests with special needs. The golf carts only go to the South Gate due to the steep incline at East Gate ramp.
You can check with Keeneland Security if you have a guest in need of additional assistance.
Tours at Keeneland Race Course
If you get to Keeneland really early, I would suggest watching the early morning practice from 7AM – 10AM and taking the self-guided walking tour.
There are several options available for touring Keeneland.
- Keeneland’s Morning Works Tour – 1-hour tour in the morning on select days available year-round.
- Backstretch Tour- 1.5-hour tour on select days for ages 13+
- Behind the Scenes Racing Tour- 1.5-hour tour on select days for ages 13+
- Keeneland Owner’s Experience- 1.5-hour tour on select days for ages 13+
- Behind the Scenes Sales Tour – 1.5-hour tour on select days in November for ages 13+
Tailgating at Keeneland
Tailgating is really popular on race days during the weekend.
Race patrons can tailgare in the paved parking areas and on The Hill on race days. There is an enhanced tailgating area with fan-friendly amenities during the racing season on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
There are premium tailgating options available for groups from 10 to 750 people.
What is Permitted During Tailgating at “The Hill”?
The Hill is open for tailgating on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays during the live meet from 8 a.m. to 60 minutes following last race.
The following items are permitted for tailgating on The Hill
- 10×10 pop-up tent that fits within parking space areas
- Generators – (the maximum size for generators is 7000-watt)
- Gas grills
- Animals on a leash
*The footprint must stay out of parking/traffic lanes maximum size for generators is 7000-watt
Prohibited Tailgating Items on The Hill
You’ll need to leave the following items at home because they aren’t permitted for tailgating on The Hill.
- Charcoal/wood fire open-flame cooking
- Open bars or kegs
- Balloons of any kind
- DJs or amplified sound equipment
- Fire pits
You can check the tailgating rules for other parking areas on the grounds here.
Pre Race Activities at Keeneland at the Paddock
Before each horse race, patrons can view the horses and watch the jockeys mount on the horses at the paddock.
What Time are the Horse Races at Keeneland?
Post time for the race is 1PM and races are about 30 minutes apart which gives you time to see the horses before each race. The number of horse races varies each day with end times between 4:30 PM – 6:30 PM.
The gates open at 11 AM for racing.
It’s great to see the beautiful horses up close.
The paddock also allows you to observe what the horse’s temperament is like that day which could affect how he races that day.
What Items Are Allowed Inside the Race Course?
- Folding Chairs are only permitted in general areas on the ground level
- Umbrellas (outdoors only)
- Purse, medical, or diaper bag
What Items Are Not Permitted Inside the Race Course?
- No outside food or drink
- Large bags/ backpacks
- Sports Equipment
- Large Camera Equipment
- Animals – with the exception of trained service animals
Food & Drink Options at Keeneland Race Course
There are a lot of different food options while at Keeneland. Keeneland has concession stands and several restaurants on site.
The majority of the concession and drink options are on the first level and more limited options are on the 2nd and 3rd floors.
*There is a dress code for some of the more upscale restaurants.
We opted to try the Kentucky Burgoo which is a soup made from meats and vegetables that was really good.
Keeneland also sells a specialty drink called the “Keeneland Breeze” which is made with Kentucky Bourbon so we had to sample it too.
(1 part Maker’s Mark Bourbon, a splash of orange liqueur, and a squeeze of fresh orange. Top off with ginger ale and serve in a rocks glass filled with ice. Garnish with an orange wedge. )
The Dress Code at Keeneland Race Course
Race attendees wear a variety of clothing attire from shorts to dresses. I will say that overall it was a dressier crowd.
I wore a dress and my husband and kids wore khaki pants with a golf/ polo shirt and we were comfortable in our surroundings.
What to Wear to Keeneland
I would recommend dressing a little nicer with business casual or above style. It’s fun to dress up a little and I think it’s better to be a little overdressed than underdressed.
Depending on where you will be dining, you will need to dress accordingly. The nicer the restaurant and seating area, the more formal the dress code.
- General Admission: No dress code, casual
- Reserved Grandstand: No dress code, casual
- Equestrian Room: No dress code, casual
- Phoenix Room: Business Casual – Dress Slack, Dress Shoes, Button Down (comparable for ladies). Denim and athletic attire are not allowed.
- Lexington/Kentucky Room: Business Formal – Dress Coat, Tie, Dress Shoes, Button Down (comparable for ladies). Denim and athletic attire are not allowed.
- Clubhouse: Business Formal – Dress Coat, Tie, Dress Shoes, Button Down (comparable for ladies). Denim and athletic attire are not allowed.
What is the Dress Code for the Keeneland Clubhouse?
If you’ve got access to the Clubhouse you’ll need to dress in business formal attire.
- Men- Suits or sport coats, dress slacks, dress shirt with collar and tie. Dress shoes and dress socks.
- Women – Clothing of comparable formality to gentlemen, including but not limited to skirts, dresses, tailored pantsuits, or dress slacks.
Clothing NOT permitted at the Keeneland Clubhouse – Denim – regardless of color, slacks that are designed to resemble jeans, shorts (including rompers), clothing or shoes that resemble athletic attire, abbreviated or revealing attire.
Gambling at Keeneland
A program from Keeneland will tell you the distance length of each race and all of the information you need to know associated with the horses.
You can learn more about the basics of betting.
There are multiple ways that you can place your bet while at the race.
- Go to a window
- Bet from your mobile device
- Use a self-service machine
My friend gave me a great tip for the kids. She said that when she went to races as a child, her dad would give her and her siblings a bag of coins so that they could bet between themselves on the races.
My older son used a strategy and read all of the stats in the program and my younger son picked horses with cooler names.
Guess who won the most money???
You will notice that the grounds around Keeneland are absolutely beautiful. There is history and Kentucky pride at every turn.
The statues of the jockeys near the paddock are repainted each year to display the winning colors of the silks of all of the grade races.
A race a Keeneland is a great way to see why Kentucky is the Horse Capital of the World.
How Much is Admission to Keeneland?
You can purchase tickets online and you’ll want to plan ahead because some races and seating sections do sell out.
General Admission Tickets
- $7 Wednesdays & Thursdays
- $10 Fridays, Saturdays, & Sundays
- $15 Opening Weekend
*Children ages 12 and under do not require a ticket for General Admission.
(If you have general admission tickets on the lower level you can also bring a lawn chair or get there early to reserve a bench)
General Admission tickets include:
- Access to the general areas on the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd floors with limited seating on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Reserved Grandstand Tickets
- $15 Wednesdays & Thursdays
- $25 Fridays, Saturdays, & Sundays
- $30 Opening Weekend
- $50 General Admission Season Pass
Grandstand Reserved Seating is a more comfortable seating option with a back and armrest that’s under cover.
Any child who requires a seat will need to purchase a ticket for Grandstand Reserved Seating. (Tickets are recommended for children 24 months or older.)
Dining Room Tickets
Check the website for the full list of ticket inclusions with the Dining Room ticket of choice.
A ticket is needed for any child 24 months or older, who will require a chair.
Equestrian Dining Room
- $30 Wednesdays & Thursdays
- $40 Fridays, Saturdays, & Sundays
- $50 Opening Weekend
Phoenix Dining Room
- $80 Wednesdays & Thursdays
- $100 Fridays, Saturdays, & Sundays
- $125 Opening Weekend
Lexington/ Kentucky Dining Room
- $100 Wednesdays & Thursdays
- $125 Fridays, Saturdays, & Sundays
- $150 Opening Weekend
More Information About Keeneland Race Course
You can find out more about Keeneland from their website.
Where is Keeneland Race Course Located?
Keeneland Race Course is located at 4201 Versailles Road, Lexington, Kentucky.
Book Your Stay in Lexington, KY
Hotels Near Keeneland
- Hampton Inn Lexington South-Keeneland/Airport – 4.4 miles – 9 minutes
- Comfort Suites Keeneland – 4.4 miles – 10 minutes
- Holiday Inn Express & Suites Lexington Downtown Area-Keenland, an IHG Hotel – 5.5 miles -10 minutes