During our 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 race at Keeneland. We didn’t know what to expect for our first race and I wanted to share useful tips before your visit.
A Short Racing Season
Keeneland is a Lexington tradition and only offers a short live racing season during the month of April in the spring and October in the fall. Keeneland generates the majority of its income from their Thoroughbred auction house which 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 you arrive at Keeneland, you can choose to pay for parking or there is plenty of free parking in several grassy areas that are not far from the entrance.
If you get to Keeneland really early, I would suggest watching the early morning practice and taking the self-guided walking tour. Tailgating is also really popular on race days. We attended a Sunday race which was less crowded and a bit more of a kid-friendly atmosphere.
Before each horse race, patrons can view the horses and watch the jockeys mount on the horses at the paddock.
Post time for the race is 1:05 and races are about 30 minutes apart which gives you time to see the horses before each race.
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.
Food & Drinks
There are a lot of different food options while at Keeneland. There are concession stands and several restaurants on site. There is a dress code for some of the 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” that 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. )
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 colored polo shirt and we felt like we fit in. 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.
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.
If you are the betting type, you can talk to a betologist and you also have multiple areas where you can place your bet.
My friend gave me a great tip for the kids. She said that when she went 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 the picked horses by picking 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.
General Admission (check website to confirm pricing)
Kids 12 and under are FREE!
(If you are sitting in the lower level you can also bring a lawn chair or get there early to reserve a bench)
Grandstand Reserved Seating is a more comfortable seating option with a back and armrest undercover.
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Sunday: $10 per person
Saturday: $20 per person
*Tickets include general admission fee.
You can find out more about Keeneland from their website.
Keeneland is located at 4201 Versailles Road
Lexington, Kentucky 40510