KEENELAND RACE COURSE HAS BREEDERS’ CUP IN SIGHT
If you are looking for a little piece of sporting world heaven, take the journey down Versailles Road in Lexington, Kentucky and there you will find it. Folks residing in the bluegrass state have long known of this garden of Eden, but in 2015 the whole world will get to visit.
Located in the heart of horse country, Keeneland Race Course is certainly a sight to behold. With sprawling farms surrounding the oval that has been raced on since the fall of 1936, country boys have not only survived, they have thrived. And now the Breeders’ Cup is coming to Keeneland for the 2015 running for all to behold. Question is, can this quaint piece of farmland once owned by Fayette County sportsman Jack Keene welcome the world and do it in the style they are accustomed to?
Since it’s inception, it has always been the goal to create a model racetrack to perpetuate and improve the sport. The course has always intended to serve as a symbol of the fine traditions of Thoroughbred racing. As the first Keeneland president, Hal Price Headley, put it back in 1936, “We want people to come out here to enjoy God’s sunshine, fresh air, and to watch horses race”. For anyone that has visited 4201 Versailles Road, it is quickly realized that our pal Hal accomplished his mission.
The journey up the driveway to the parking lots has an affect on the jaw as it perpetuates a dropping motion. Lush surroundings and friendly faces line the road that leads to the track entrance. A welcoming aroma surrounds the facility and a warm fuzzy encompasses the trip into the paddock behind the grandstand. Of course the racetrack itself is in top condition with a newly installed dirt surface and a quick look around quickly speaks volumes as to why some of the sport’s best have long elected to run at this central Kentucky haven.
The question for Keeneland when it comes to hosting the world Thoroughbred championships next year will certainly not be about quality, but rather quantity. With history oozing from every orifice and class trumpeting like the call to post, this is an excellent place to showcase the best of the best in every division. But can it handle the onslaught of fans and media. Folks in the Bluegrass state love their horse racing and the central location of the track makes it likely for a large crowd. On four different occasions when the event was hosted just up the road at Churchill Downs, over 70,000 fans attended on a single day. The single day record for attendance at Keeneland is 40,617.
The good news is the folks that call the old Keene Farm home have a year to prepare. The quality of product they produce year in and year out tells us they have a pretty good idea of how to do things. That old saying “where there is a will there is a way” should apply here. When the Kentucky Racing Association track closed and left Lexington without back in 1933 Kentuckians were left to wonder where they would get their pony fix. That is when Keene and Headley went to work and made it happen. The same will hold true again only this time the entire world will benefit along with those folks in central Kentucky.