Tips for Visiting Keeneland in Lexington, KY

If you’re looking for a fun day you’ll want to go back for – these tips for visiting Keeneland in Lexington KY are the place to start!

You’ll see colorful outfits and hats, cheer on your favorite horse, and eat delicious food! Plus – you can take in some of the history of Keeneland as well!

Keeneland Horse Race Track Lexington, Kentucky

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Mark Your Calendar -You Can Only Watch a Race at Keeneland a Couple Months a Year

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 April in the spring and October in the fall.

What’s amazing is that Keeneland generates most of its income from its Thoroughbred auction house. Their auction house has sold more champions and stakes winners than any other sales company.

They can afford a shorter live racing season than most race tracks because of the auctions.

Tips for Visiting Keeneland

Keeneland Racing Dates

Horse races at Keeneland take place on select days in April and October.

*There is no racing on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Spring Meet -The Spring Meet Racing Season for Keeneland is on select days through April 5- May 4, 2024

Fall Meet – The Keeneland Fall Meet Racing Season is on select dates in October 2024.

What Time are the Horse Races at Keeneland?

Post time for the race is 1 PM and races are about 30 minutes apart, which gives you time to see the horses before each race. The number of horse races varies with end times between 4:30 PM to 6:30 PM.

The gates open at 11 AM for racing.

You Need to Purchase Tickets for Keeneland in Advance!

Tickets can go FAST! For a specific date, you’ll want to purchase tickets for race day in advance.

Many out-of-town guests wait until the last minute to purchase tickets because of the weather but they can sell out.

Keeneland Horse Race Track Lexington, Kentucky

Arrive Early to Experience All of the Race Day Fun!

There is so much going on before the race at Keeneland to experience on race day.

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.

Keeneland Horse Race Track Lexington, Kentucky

It’s great to see the beautiful horses up close.

Keeneland Horse Race Track Lexington, Kentucky

The paddock also allows you to observe the horse’s temperament that day which could affect how he races that day.

Keeneland Horse Race Track Lexington, Kentucky

What Items Are Allowed Inside at Keeneland Race Course?

  • Folding Chairs are only permitted in general areas on the ground level
  • Umbrellas (outdoors only) 
  • Purse, medical, or diaper bag

No outside food or drink is permitted inside the gates. You can see the full list here.

friends Tailgating

Tailgating at Keeneland

Tailgating is really popular on race days during the weekend.

Race patrons can tailgate 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 the last race.

The following items are permitted for tailgating on The Hill

  • 10×10 pop-up tent that fits within parking space areas
  • Tables
  • Chairs
  • Coolers
  • Televisions
  • Generators – (the maximum size for generators is 7000-watt)
  • Gas grills
  • Animals on a leash

*The footprint must stay out of parking/traffic lanes and the maximum size for generators is 7000-watt

Prohibited Tailgating Items on The Hill

The following items aren’t permitted for tailgating on The Hill.

  • Charcoal/wood fire open-flame cooking
  • Open bars or kegs
  • Balloons of any kind
  • Inflatables
  • DJs or amplified sound equipment
  • Fire pits

You can check the tailgating rules for other parking areas on the grounds here.

Kentucky Burgoo

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.

Most 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.

Use this recipe to make the Keeneland Burgoo at home.

Keeneland Horse Race Track Lexington, Kentucky

Keeneland also sells a specialty drink called the “Keeneland Breeze” 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 it off with ginger ale and serve in a rocks glass filled with ice. Garnish with an orange wedge. )

Breakfast at Keeneland

If you get to Keeneland early a popular breakfast spot is Keeneland Track Kitchen. The Track restaurant is open every day for breakfast and lunch.

women at horse race in the spring

What to Wear to Keeneland Race Course in the Spring

Race attendees wear a variety of clothing attire from shorts to dresses. I will say that overall it’s a dressier crowd.

I wore a dress, my husband and kids wore khaki pants with a golf/ polo shirt and we were comfortable in our surroundings.

I recommend dressing a little nicer for the Keeneland Spring Meet with business casual or above style. It’s fun to dress up a little and I think it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed for this event.

Many fans use the race as an excuse to dress up in their Easter best with colorful dresses, Derby hats or fascinators, and/ or sports coats or bow ties /regular ties.

The weather in the spring can be unpredictable so you may want to bring a light jacket or cardigan.

fall accessories

What to Wear to Keeneland in the Fall

For the fall meets many race fans still dress up. Many women will wear felted brim hats, or a scarf and knee-high boots with their dresses.

Men typically wear a polo-style shirt or a button-down.

Keeneland Dress Code

Depending on where you will be dining, you 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.

You’ll find the full dress code requirements for the Keeneland Clubhouse here.

Keeneland Horse Race Track Lexington, Kentucky

How to Bet at Keeneland

There are multiple ways you can place your bet while at the race.

  • You can bet at home with Keeneland Select
  • Go to a window
  • Bet from your mobile device
  • Use a self-service machine

The Guide to Betting Program at Keeneland

The Guide to Betting Program from Keeneland will help you with the “basics of betting.

Keeneland Horse Race Track Lexington, Kentucky

My friend gave me a great tip to help keep little kids occupied. 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???

Keeneland jockey silks 2

You’ll notice that the grounds around Keeneland are 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 the races.

A horse race at Keeneland is a great way to see why Kentucky is the “Horse Capital of the World.”

Keeneland in Lexington KY

How Much is Admission to Keeneland?

Admission prices for Keeneland depend on which day you visit and what section you’re sitting in.

You can purchase tickets online and you’ll want to plan ahead because some races and seating sections do sell out.

Horse races on Wednesdays & Thursdays are at a discounted rate.

*Children ages 12 and under do not require a ticket for General Admission. 

General Admission Tickets

(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

Grandstand Reserved Seating is a more comfortable seating area with a back and armrest, underneath a cover.

Any child who requires a seat needs 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
  • Phoenix Dining Room
  • Lexington/ Kentucky Dining Room

More Information About Keeneland Race Course

You can find out more about Keeneland from their website.

Watch Keeneland Morning Workouts

Keeneland Morning Workouts

If you get to Keeneland early, I suggest watching the daily Keeneland Morning Workouts from 6AM to 10AM.

Depending on the time of year, the horses may be on the practice track instead of the regular track.

Tours at Keeneland Race Course

You can take a free self-guided walking tour or guided tours you can book in advance.

There are several options available for guided tours of 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+
Entrance Keeneland

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

*New for Spring 2024, all paved parking rows at Keeneland will be for permit parking and free handicap parking only. There is no reservation required for handicapped parking.

You’ll find plenty of free parking in several grassy areas of The Hill (Keeneland’s official tailgate area) and The Meadow that aren’t far from the entrance.

FYI- If you take advantage of free parking, the walk to the entrance may be more challenging if you wear high heels.

Additional Parking Info for Keeneland

  • Valet Parking -Clubhouse valet is limited to Keeneland Club members with their guests.
  • 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 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 off at the top of the Drive-Thru Betting lane (Gate 1- Man O’ War Entrance). 
  • Shuttles -Shuttles are available for guests using free parking and the tailgating lots.
  • Handicap Shuttles – Golf cart shuttles are available to help transport guests with special needs. The golf carts only go to the South Gate due to the steep incline at the East Gate ramp. You can check with Keeneland Security if you’re attending with a guest who needs additional assistance. 

Where is Keeneland Race Course Located?

Keeneland Race Course is located at 4201 Versailles Road, Lexington, Kentucky.

hotel room

Book Your Stay in Lexington, KY

Save on your stay at a hotel or vacation rental in Lexington. KY.

Hotels Near Keeneland Race Track

Unique Horse Farm Tours in Lexington, KY

Keeneland Horse Tours

A horse farm tour is a wonderful way to gain a greater appreciation of the horses. There are several Horse Farm Tours in the Lexington area that you can book.

Looking for More Adventures in Kentucky?

20 thoughts on “Tips for Visiting Keeneland in Lexington, KY”

  1. Hi! There a chance Olof rain for the wknd… can a small canopy be set up at my tailgate at the paved parking area?!

  2. Probably not by 4. Take your time driving along Frankford Pike. Look up Minns Steak House while in lv.

  3. A diaper bag is allowed at Keeneland, though it will be checked at the gate for gives further information!

  4. Can we bring bags? We have a baby coming with us and need to prepare bottles, toys, etc and what we can pack it in.

  5. My son and daughter in laws family will be attending on mothers day at tables in the clubhouse.Can you advise me as to the dress code.I understand it is dress but how formal of dress.Can you help me?

  6. I’ve taken pictures and video with my phone without a problem. What type of camera? I don’t think that it would be an issue.

  7. It really depends on your kids attention spans. Our kids competed against each other to guess the winner which made them more interested in each race. It’s also nice to watch the horses in the paddock before each race. The time goes by pretty fast

  8. My family and I are going for Spring Break. None of us have attended a live horse race. How long should we plan to be there? I see the track opens at 11am and then starts at 1:00pm. I’m curious if this will be the only thing we do that day or if we can get to Louisville by 4:00pm…

  9. Loved you information and tips for having fun!!! Going today and I have decided to dress up because of your post!! Thanks for keeping people like me “ in the loop”.

  10. Thanks for catching the error. My spellcheck didn’t pick it up and I missed it. Hope you have a fun visit to Keeneland.

  11. Your site is very nice but you should correct the spelling of Gambeling to correctly be Gambling to enhance the accuracy of the site. I came to your site to check dress code and what to expect when we come and quickly noticed the typo.

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