Thursday, April 10, 2014


The alarm rang at 6 a.m. yesterday morning.   Usually that means an early tee time for Dave, but this time it signaled our early morning visit to the famous Keeneland Racetrack to watch the morning training sessions, the gallops.

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

they're off

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. 


  1. Lucky you, you got box seats! Sue, I feel like I am beside you as you share your day at the horse race. Love all the pictures as they capture the day of action and excitement and my fave is the breezeway shot.

  2. Exploitation at it's best

  3. What a wonderful day! I can only imagine your excitement with this special tour and afternoon at the race. Lots of close and personnel time with those beautiful horses. I'm sure you fell asleep with a smile on your face:)

    Great shot of that huge tongue coming out for a lick. That sale ring sure is a few steps up from the cattle ring I've seen at the fairgrounds!

    This will be a tough day to top:)

  4. Wonderful day! I can almost smell the barns (a good smell for a former rancher) and hear the snorting of the horses. Especially like the black horse, yellow flowers, white blooming trees shot and the pat on the neck that follows. Thanks for sharing your great opportunity.

  5. What a fun day! Sounds like you know the right people! They sure are beautiful beasts. The tongue shot cracked me up!

  6. Never heard of Keeneland so this is all new to us. Gorgeous shots of the horses and beautiful grounds. How lucky to be able to watch the race in style from a box seat. Glad you had such a perfect day.