Last week I called my sister-in-law Eileen who cheerily mentioned that she was at Keeneland race track with some friends. That reminded me that I had not told you about the trip Jim and I made to Keeneland as part of a weekend birthday celebration for Eileen last October. With the Kentucky Derby scheduled for tomorrow, I thought this might be a good time to post pictures from that trip.
Another sister-in-law Robin, and her husband Frank, flew in for the celebration from New Jersey. Along with some friends of the birthday girl's, and her husband Michael, we took off across the Ohio River from historic New Albany, IN, where they all live, for a day-long tour of Kentucky's Bluegrass region. The first stop was the beautiful Woodford Reserve Distillery, which I will tell you about another time.
Keeneland, located in Lexington, opened 75 years ago on property that was sold to area horsemen after a track that had been in existence in the area for more than 100 years closed. Jack Keene's property included a private mile and a furlong track, a stone castle and barn, a 100,000 gallon water tank, and enough property for future stables and lots of parking. It was on Keeneland's rolling hills filled with gigantic parking lots that we encountered the race track's amazing tailgating scene. With thousands of attendees, and row after row of cars, tailgating is a huge tradition there. Needless to say, with the University of Kentucky in nearby Lexington, there is lots of partying going on.
You can't discern from my photo that this well-dressed (and everyone was–it's a tradition) gentleman was selling racing forms with one hand and eating lunch with the other.
There seemed to be no explanation why an artist was painting a splendid autumn tree in the middle of the green while the crowd mingled in the background, but he did add to the afternoon's entertainment.
Since I am a real novice at this sport, I had to learn the proper jargon when placing bets at the window. Luckily the order of what to say in which order is printed in the racing form. Being rather stingy with my $2 bets, I learned to follow my sister-in-law's lead on which horses looked like winners. She just kept picking the red ones which was good enough for me.
The horses' owners stand in the circle and watch the jockeys mount their horses before everyone heads off to the track.
This groomsman was so proud of his horse that he brought him over for me to take a close-up. I learned that Keeneland's Spring and Fall races have a reputation as a springboard for future winners of Triple Crown and Breeders' Cup contenders.
The upper deck was sprinkled with women holding white parasols…another Keeneland tradition.
All eyes were focused on a huge screen visible across the track where the race is shown in real time.
With races scheduled back-to-back, the post-race scene in the Winner's Circle didn't seem to attract much attention, except for the owners, shown in the foreground.
Meanwhile, back in the parking lot, beer pong was in full swing, and against all odds, I left with the $2 I came in with.