Keeneland Race Track

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Keeneland Race Track

Keeneland Race Track is a horse-racing track in Lexington, Kentucky, United States. It opened in 1936, at Versailles Rd.

History of Keeneland Race Track

1936 – It was inaugurated on October 15, 1936, and originated as a non-profit racing–auction entity on 147 acres (0.59 km2) of farmland west of Lexington, owned by Jack Keene. Keeneland Association, Inc. is an equine business based in Lexington, Kentucky. It includes two distinct divisions, the Keeneland Race Course, a Thoroughbred racing facility, and Keeneland Sales, a horse auction complex.

1940 – Electric starting gate was introduced in April for the Spring Meet.

1949 Keeneland replaced the old wooden rail with an inside aluminum rail for its spring meeting.

1950 – The box seat area was refurbished in preparation for the 1950 Spring Meet. The old wooden structure was replaced by steel, aluminum, and concrete. 

1953 – The Keeneland management enlarged and extended the grandstand for the 1953 Fall Meet. It increased the seating capacity to 3,849 and added a new dining room with 384 seats. The finish line was relocated as the Beard Course ( named to honor Louis Beard) of seven furlongs and added 184 feet of length. It extended the course length from 990 feet to 1,174 feet. 

1954 –The film patrol system was introduced and first utilized on April 1954.

1955 – Keeneland installed a five-furlong training track which opened in September 1955. 

1956 – the main track underwent a complete renovation, costing $150,000, to enhance the surface and sub-surface drainage. 

1961 – An alphanumeric message board was installed at the ground level in front of the infield tote board for the 1961 Spring Meet in April. 

1963 – Keeneland management established an alternate finish line at the sixteenth pole for the 1963 Spring Meet.

1967 – In April, closed-circuit TV monitors were installed in the grandstand and clubhouse areas.

1973 – Keeneland racetrack installed four 40-stall barns to the backside.

1976 – The original wooden grandstand since the inauguration of the track was replaced with a new section of concert and steel in preparation for the 1976 Fall Meet.

1980 – Keeneland racetrack established a walking ring at the Sales Pavilion to allow buyers to scrutinize the horses before entering the auction ring.

1984 Keeneland constructed a trackside Winner’s Circle and created the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes for the coming visit of Queen Elizabeth II.

1985 – The management installed a turf course and opened the new grandstand entrance beside the paddock and walking ring. 

1986 – It was recognized as a National Historic Landmark for its role in horseracing sport’s growth and revitalization in Lexington.

1990Keeneland originally raced from Tuesdays to Saturdays. However, more people could attend on Sundays than on Tuesdays, and the competition from other tracks and other entertainment venues motivated them to request for approval of racing on Wednesdays through Sundays on June 1990.

1991 – The Keeneland was approved for its new racing schedule (Wednesday to Sunday) and held its first Sunday meeting in the spring of 1991.

2003 – The 2003 movie Seabiscuit filmed most of its scenes at the Keeneland racetrack because of the racetrack’s “retro feel”.

2005 – Keeneland also became the filming location of the 2005 movie Dreamer.

2006 Keeneland replaced the dirt surface with a Polytrack surface and reshaped the main track over the summer of 2006 in preparation for the fall race meeting.

2009 – The Horseplayers Association of North America introduced a rating system for 65 Thoroughbred racetracks in North America, and Keeneland was ranked #1 of the top ten tracks. It is also known for its reference library, which is open to the public and devoted to thoroughbred horses. It has a notable collection of books (The Blood-Horse of January 6, 1940) and numerous photographic negatives.

2010 – Several significant scenes of the 2010 movie Secretariat were also filmed at the Keeneland race track. 

2014Keeneland racetrack restored its dirt racing surface during the summer of 2014.

2015 – The first Breeders’ Cup hosted in Keeneland was held in 2015. 

2020 – The COVID-19 pandemic in the United States caused Keeneland to cancel their Spring meeting from April 2 to 24, 2020. It was shortened to five days and rescheduled from July 8 to 12, 2020. 

Track Details and Other Facilities

Track Details

  • 🐎Main Oval Track (Dirt)
    • 1 1/16 miles (1,700 m) in length 
    • 19,000 tons of sand, silt, and clay native to
    • The surface composition is roughly 87.5 percent sand and 12.5 percent clay and silt.
    • 75-80 feet wide. 
    • The stretch length is 1,236 feet. 
    • Four-and-a-half furlong and seven-furlong chutes
    • A temporary rail was set 15 feet out. 
  • 🐎Beard Course
    • It is named after the founding member Major Louis Beard.
    • Starts in a chute on the backstretch and continues for seven furlongs and 184 feet. 
  • 🐎Headley Course
    • It is named after the first Keeneland President, Hal Price Headley
    • Starts in a chute on the final turn and is primarily used for four-and-a-half furlong races for 2-year-old horses.
  • 🐎The Oval turf Course
    • 7 1/2 furlongs
    • 1,190 feet down the stretch
    • It is a mix of rye, bluegrass and tall fescue.
    • Width is 58 feet at the mile pole and 70 feet at the finish line. 
    • It is named the Haggin Course after Keeneland President Louis Lee Haggin, who served from 1940 to 1956
  • 🐎All-weather training track

Other Facilities

  • 🐎Standard Corporate Suite – Race Day Hospitality
    • Capacity – 16 guests
    • Includes reserved row parking, admission, and program. 
    • Tickets cost $175 per person
    • Available Televisions, Private Mutuel machine
    • Hosting a Meeting is not permitted
    • Dress Code
      • Gentlemen – Suits or sport coats, dress slacks, dress shirt with collar and tie. 
      • Ladies – Clothing comparable formality to gentlemen, including but not limited to skirts, dresses, tailored pantsuits, or dress slacks. 
      • Not Permitted Denim – regardless of color, slacks designed to resemble jeans, shorts (including rompers), clothing or shoes that resemble athletic attire, abbreviated or revealing attire. 
      • Dress code rules do not apply to children 12 and under.
  • 🐎Sales Pavilion
    • Capacity
      • Sales Arena – 700 seats
      • Holding Ring – 120 seats, 200 cocktail
      • Limestone Café – 100 seats, 150 cocktail
      • Pavilion Bar – 100 seats, 100 cocktail
    • Conducts Three sales Annually
      • The September Yearling Sale
      • November Breeding Stock Sale
      • January Horses of All Ages Sale
    • Horses sold at Keeneland sales
      • 82 horses that won 88 Breeders’ Cup World Championship races:
        • 19 Kentucky Derby winners
        • 21 Preakness winners
        • 18 Belmont winners
        • 11 recipients of the Eclipse Award as Horse of the Year
        • Five Epsom Derby winners
    • Nine out of the fourteen highest-ranked horses in the Kentucky Oaks were sold in Keeneland sales.
  • 🐎Entertainment Center & Keene Barn -Venue for Wedding
    • Capacity
      • Minimum: 250
      • Seated: 450
      • Cocktail: 850
    • Ceremony options:
      • In Front of the Keeneland Library (outdoor)
      • In Front of the Keene Barn (outdoor)
      • Inside the Keene Barn (indoor/covered)
  • 🐎Keeneland Room
    • Remodeled for the Queen of England
    • Located on the 5th floor, overlooking the scenic Horse Capital of the World. 
    • Capacity
      • Minimum: 20
      • Seated: 60
      • Cocktail: 80
    • Ceremony options:
      • Track ApronTote Board Backdrop (outdoor)
      • Track Apron—Winner’s Circle Backdrop (outdoor)
      • Under the grandstand (covered)
  • 🐎Keeneland Clubhouse
    • Capacity
      • Minimum: 70
      • Seated: 150
      • Cocktail: 200
    • Ceremony options:
      • Clubhouse Lawn— Keeneland Gates Backdrop (outdoor)
      • Clubhouse Lawn—Grandstand Backdrop (outdoor)
      • Tunnel Connecting Paddock and Track (covered)
  • 🐎The Keeneland Kids Club
    • It is in partnership with the UK HealthCare Kentucky Children’s Hospital.
    • A free official club for Keeneland fans 12 and under.
    • New members can acquire a personalized membership packet and special monthly emails from Buckles with highlights from other members of the thoroughbred community.
  • 🐎Tailgating At Keeneland
    • At paved parking areas each race day and on “The Hill.”
    • Tailgating area is available each Friday and Saturday in every racing season. 
    • The Hill is accessible via Gates 1 or 4 at no charge
    • Complimentary shuttle service is available to the Grandstand area.
    • Premium tailgating options are available for groups of any size – from 10 to 150. Scroll to learn more.
    • Tailgating Tents
      • Pop-up tents are permitted throughout parking areas on The Hill.
      • All staked tent rentals should be booked through Keeneland-allowed vendors. 
    • Premium Tailgating Packages
      • On Fridays and Saturdays during the Fall Meet
      • Groups of any size can arrange for a reserved tailgating package, including a designated tent, chairs, tables, and more.
    • Tailgating For Large Groups

Race Schedule and Major Events & Races

Keeneland Race Schedule

  • 🐎Live Racing Schedule
    • Hosts live race racing every April and October, from Wednesdays to Sundays.
    • Admission gates are open at 11 a.m.

Keeneland Racetrack Schedule

  • 🐎Morning Works
    • The ground level of the grandstand is open until 10 a.m. for viewing of Morning Works.
    • No ticket or admission is required. 
  • 🐎Keeneland Shop
    • Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 
  • 🐎No racing days, Mondays & Tuesdays
    • The ground level of the grandstand is still open to the public
    • No ticket or admission is required.

Major Stakes Races

Graded Stakes Races

  • Grade I 
      • 🐴Alcibiades Stakes
      • 🐴Ashland Stakes
      • 🐴Blue Grass Stakes
      • 🐴Breeders’ Futurity Stakes
      • 🐴First Lady Stakes
      • 🐴Jenny Wiley Stakes
      • 🐴Keeneland Turf Mile Stakes
      • 🐴Madison Stakes
      • 🐴Maker’s 46 Mile Stakes
      • 🐴Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes
      • 🐴Spinster Stakes
  • Grade II
      • 🐴Appalachian Stakes
      • 🐴Elkhorn Stakes
      • 🐴Fayette Stakes
      • 🐴Jessamine Stakes
      • 🐴Marathon Stakes
      • 🐴Phoenix Stakes
      • 🐴Raven Run Stakes
      • 🐴Shakertown Stakes
      • 🐴Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes
      • 🐴Woodford Stakes

Location and Access to the Racecourse

  • General Admission Tickets cost $7 in advance and $10 on the day.
  • Parking 
    • It is free across the grounds with several zones.
    • All permit parking is recommended to enter through Gate 2.
  • Handicapped Parking
    • Available in rows 21 – 23
    • It has golf carts shuttling to the Grandstand South Entrance.
    • Suggested entry through Gate 2.
  • Bus Parking
    • A designated lot for buses and RVs 
    • Adjacent to Barns 1-3
    • Costs $10 cash
    • Suggested entry through Gate 1.
  • Taxi/Uber/Lyft Station
    • Drop-off and pick-up areas for taxis, Uber, Lyft, and other rideshare options.
    • It is located at the top of the Drive-Thru Betting lane, near row 27.
    • Accessible via Gate 2.


Other racetracks are sorted and listed on the page “List of Racetracks”. To view the full list, hit the button below. You can also check the horse racing types and breeds to have a lot more in-depth knowledge about horse racing. 

Keeneland Race Track

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