|a rare sunrise for me|
The four of us had planned to spend a few hours watching the young thoroughbreds work out on the track in preparation for the beginning of race weekend. Its our favorite thing to do at a racetrack, the morning air is bracing, the horses fresh and fractious, the bits of overhead conversations filled with a language of its own. We planned on treating ourselves for our early departure by stopping for a big breakfast after the gallops ended. Our plans changed and we never got that breakfast.
We drove into the track from the backside so we could pass through the barns and watch the preparations taking place. The barn day starts early at a race track.
|back to the barn after gallops|
|breezeways between shed rows|
The great grandstands were empty and dark. It was a cold and clear morning. We stood at the rail, coffee's in hand, and watched the fantastic horses enter the track, then stop along the rail, turn and wait their turn to breeze the track. Their trainer's had given them instructions about what speeds and distances they were to work on that morning......some watched quietly, some jigged and danced nervously, some were raring to get to the business of running full bore, some were content to stand and wait.
|everyone was bundled up|
|waiting their turn|
|calming pat for a nervous filly|
|this big guy was a "pony" used to lead|
race horses to and from the track.
He loves peppermint candies!
The morning session ended about 10:30. We were frozen stiff but exhilarated.
So, now for the unforeseen opportunity - Tuesday evening our dear friend Linda (a wonderful and talented woman who worked with Dave as the in-house accountant in our first company, Papago Plastics) emailed me that she had read the blog and knew we were going to visit Keeneland in the morning. Linda is now the Controller at Whisper Rock Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona. A long time co-worker there, the Membership Liaison, is from Kentucky and when Denny heard we were there he made a call to a friend, the Vice President of Keeneland and Voila - we were able to take advantage of a wonderful opportunity!
Dave called Mr. Gabbert from trackside and he gave us directions to his office in the Clubhouse.
We were warmly greeted and offered a personal tour of the beautiful facility. AND, he gave us tickets for his box seats so we could watch the day's race card in first class style! We were pretty excited to say the least.
No time for breakfast now.....we went back to the Horse Park campground, ate a quick lunch, tended to our dogs, and the back to the track we went.
|our "tour guide" Will explains the track layout|
from the 4th floor vantage point
Will, our assigned guide, took us inside the sales pavilion. Four to five thousand Thoroughbreds of all ages cross in this ring during the prestigious Keeneland Sales in April and September with average prices around $250,000 each......These sales support the track.
|waiting for the first race in Box 11|
|gotta love this mini fascinator......|
|ponying to the starting gate|
|coming down the home stretch in front of us|
|two of the day's races were on the turf,|
the rest were on the polytrack
Then it was over. A bit like polo in that there are periods of intense activity and excitement punctuated by 20 minutes or so of waiting. I suppose that gives patrons time to place their next bets!
At the end of the race day, since we had once again parked in back of the track area, we were able to walk through the barns and enjoy the presence of these magnificent beasts up close on a quieter and more personal level.
|heading back to the barn|
|a cooling bathe|
A day to remember.