Keeneland Racecourse

Keeneland Racecourse

I can finally mark off attending Keeneland from my list of “things every Kentuckian must do.” Although I’ve lived most of my life in the Commonwealth I have never made it down to this event. I have certainly heard the depictions of it, and for some part they were true. You saw a mixture of wealthy people, scantily clad sorority girls, lots of guys wearing three piece suits, more cigar smoking than I’ve seen at any bachelor party, and your normal folks wearing fleece and blue jeans.

Keeneland is a party designation, with lots of people chartering buses down and drinking bourbon in the parking lot before hand. There’s a place called “The Hill” where local college kids come and get completely hammered, some never even coming inside the racecourse. There is a grandstand, an infield, restaurants, and bars. There is burgoo sold at food stands. It’s relatively drama free and the people watching is as fun as the horse racing.

I don’t have a ton of tips to give other than if you can’t get grandstand and are in the infield then bring some chairs to sit. Don’t set them up behind a park bench though because people rush over to stand on them during a race, which can be annoying. I’d definitely suggest hooking up with a chartered bus company. This seems like the most popular way to spend the day with a great pre-race party with hundreds of other riders. I was lucky in that my employer makes it an annual trip so our ride down was paid for and there was plenty of free booze on the bus. It was pretty awesome.

As far as betting goes, the day of long shot odd winners seem to be winding down. With the advent of technology it’s so easy to take bets on and off or look up data that’s not normally available on a race form. This makes choosing horses easier for those in the know, although you should know that just because a horse has great odds, there’s no indication that it will win. In general big betters know the game and chose the winners and drive down payouts. It’s just the nature of the horse racing today.

If you’re going to have real fun at Keeneland you should bet money. First off, I would suggest learning how to bet. Don’t just bet a couple of dollars on a horse to win. You should learn some of the more exotic bets like exactas, superfectas, and wheels. Before you get too intimated, you should note that just because there’s a minimum bet of say $2, it doesn’t mean you have to bet $2. For example, a Superfecta box, which is my favorite, is 24 combinations. If you bet 10 cents, the total bet will cost you $2.40, not $48. Yes you get a smaller share of the payout but it gives you something to play without breaking the bank. I’d also suggest getting in on a pick four, which can have a very big payout.

Now that I’ve been to a Breeder’s Cup, Keeneland, and the Kentucky Derby I can say I’ve see some of the best events in horse racing. I hope to get a few other Kentucky events under my belt too, although I’m not sure there are many that are as unique as these are for where we live.

Keeneland racecourse grandstand

Keeneland racecourse party

Keeneland race horse