Horse racing season kicks off in April for Lexington, KY. Keeneland provides a fun afternoon full of excitement and firsthand exposure to Bluegrass culture. It is springtime in Kentucky. Along with the budding trees and blooming flowers, a familiar sound can be heard in the distance. That rhythmic, pounding thud of horses giving all they have to win the prize. It is the official start to the horse racing season!
April means it is time for Keeneland Race Track to open its doors to Kentucky race fans. Surprisingly, a trip to the track does not have to include a bit of betting. The draw of Keeneland is as much about the social experience and local culture as it is about the horses.
Here are some ways to make the most out of a trip to Lexington and its beloved race track.
Post time is 1:15 p.m., but the party starts long before that. Join in the fun with the locals who can be found tailgating in the parking lot. The festivities range from the small, with sandwiches from the deli for two, to the extravagant with tents and take-out buffet lines for family and friends.
Relax in the warm spring weather before heading into the excitement of the races. Parking is free and tailgating is allowed throughout Keeneland grounds outside of the arena. Get there about 11:00 a.m. to get a good parking spot.
Breakfast with the Works
Every Saturday morning during the racing season visitors can enjoy breakfast trackside at Keeneland. A great family-friendly activity, for just $5 a person everyone can enjoy a breakfast buffet and then head out to the track to watch the horses do their morning workouts.
Watching the horses rush by in the quiet of the morning as the sun rises will get you ready for the day of horse-racing ahead. Activities are available for children. Presentations and demonstrations about horses and the great sport of horse racing are offered. Breakfast is served 7:00 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.
Visit on a Theme Day
To add to the excitement Keeneland hosts several theme days throughout the month of April. Visit on some of these days and you can get a discount on admission or take home a memorable souvenir. Some options include College Scholarship Day, Military Day at the Races, Best of the Bluegrass Festival and Maker’s Mark Bottle Signing.
Sport the Sunday-Best
Be prepared to be dazzled at Keeneland where the tradition of dressing up for a day at the races is still in full swing. While casual attire is perfectly acceptable, you will also see race-goers dressed to the nines in the best of spring fashion. Suits, dresses and the traditional derby hat are all on display. Join in the party and wear more formal attire to experience horse racing as it always has been in Kentucky.
Racing begins the first Friday in April and concludes on the last Friday of the month. Regular races are scheduled Wednesday through Sunday with the weekends drawing the largest crowds. Gates open at 11:00 a.m. the first post time is 1:15 p.m. Races are run about every half hour.
General admission is $3 per person. Children under the age of 12 are free. For an additional $3 during the week and $5 on weekends, reserved Grandstand seats can be purchased and are well worth the money for the view and comfort. They go quickly on the weekends and should be purchased online ahead of time.