Home » Keeneland’s 16-day spring meet offers numerous special events

Keeneland’s 16-day spring meet offers numerous special events

Keeneland spring meet 2017.

LEXINGTON, Ky.  Keeneland’s 16-day spring meet from April 4-26 offers numerous special events that will appeal to racing fans, college students, horseplayers, trendsetters and families. Many events support Keeneland’s philanthropic mission to benefit the horse industry and community organizations and initiatives.

More information is available at Keeneland.com.

Thursday opening day

For the first time in 60 years, Keeneland will open the spring meet on a Thursday. Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton has proclaimed that day, April 4, to be “Keeneland Day in the Bluegrass!”

Opening day will be a community-wide celebration starting with an afternoon of eight races. Music in partnership with The Burl, a popular live music venue in Lexington, will be featured in the Paddock area. Drink specials also will be offered.

Following the day’s final race, the popular Central Bank Thursday Night Live at Keeneland will begin in the Paddock area. This marks the first time the event will be held here.

Here is the schedule of opening-day events:

Gates open: 1 p.m. ET           Admission: $5; children 12 and under free.                 Parking: Free

Jockey Autograph Signing: 1:30-2:30 p.m. Racing fans can meet jockeys competing at Keeneland as well as retired jockeys – from Hall of Famers to history makers and Keeneland favorites – and participate in an autograph signing to benefit the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund. Event takes place in the area outside the Walking Ring.

First race: 3 p.m.

Feature race: Post time is 6:18 p.m. for the inaugural running of the $100,000 Palisades Turf Sprint, a 5½-furlong turf race for 3-year-olds.

Final race: 6:51 p.m. post time

Central Bank Thursday Night Live at Keeneland: The Zach Longoria Project will perform in the Paddock area from 7-8:30 p.m.

April activities

Keeneland Library – Celebrating its 80th anniversary, the Keeneland Library is one of the world’s largest repositories of information related to the Thoroughbred. In its exhibit “Herbert Haseltine: The Gold Standard,” visitors will see two prominent works from the latter period of the acclaimed sculptor of the early 20th century: “The Thoroughbred Horse” and “Portrait of the Racehorse Tom Fool.” The exhibit “From the Vault: Jockeys” features 26 images dating from the late 1800s to the mid-20th century from the Library’s archive of more than 1 million negatives and photographic prints. Varied memorabilia from Hall of Fame jockeys Eddie Arcaro, Ted Atkinson and Bill Shoemaker accompany the photographs. The Library is open at no charge weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Official Keeneland Tours Keeneland offers a selection of year-round, guided racing and sales tours, including Behind-the-Scenes Racing Tours, Owner’s Experience Tours and Backstretch Tours with a Day at the Races. Behind-the-Scenes Sales Tours will be offered April 8-9. On Saturdays during Sunrise Trackside, free guided tours begin every 20 minutes from the welcome stand near the Paddock and Walking Ring from 7:30-10 a.m.

The Hill (Friday and Saturday, weather permitting) – Fans who like to tailgate will enjoy the festive atmosphere of The Hill, where they can watch races on a jumbo TV and place wagers. The Hill also features food trucks, The Keeneland Shop kiosk and complimentary shuttles to the track. On Saturdays, bluegrass music presented by The Burl, a popular live music venue in Lexington, will perform from noon to 4 p.m. Two Maker’s Mark events will be held Friday, April 12: Makers Wanted Experience, including items from leather craftsmen Clayton & Crume and complimentary tea featuring Kentucky Straight Ice, and American Field, a curated marketplace of unique brands and items.

College Scholarship Day (Friday, April 5) –
Full-time college students from Kentucky and beyond will vie for $30,000 in scholarships on College Scholarship Day, which Keeneland holds in partnership with the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association. Two $10,000 Runhappy Scholarships will be awarded in addition to $1,000 scholarships awarded after each of the day’s 10 races. Pre-register online by 5 p.m. April 4 to pass the line. Students receive free general admission April 5 and can register at the College Zone in the North Terrace, which will have music, free snacks and prize drawings.

Sunrise Trackside (Saturday, April 6, 13, 20) – The day begins early for racehorses. Keeneland invites you and your family to experience their mornings with Breakfast With the Works, which features breakfast for purchase and trackside commentary (7-8:30 a.m.) while horses train on the main track. The event includes children’s activities in the Kids Club Corner (7:30-9:30 a.m.); guided Keeneland tours that depart from the welcome stand near the Paddock (7:30-10 a.m.); a Paddock demonstration with an equine-related organization in Central Kentucky (9-9:30 a.m) and a Q&A session with a jockey in the Paddock (12:05 p.m.). Paddock demonstrations are a farrier from Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital (April 6), Kentucky Horseshoeing School (April 13) and Lexington Mounted Police Unit (April 20). Parking and admission are free.

Sunday Brunch at Keene Place (Sunday, April 7, 14) – Treat yourself to the best of Keeneland Hospitality with gourmet twists on traditional brunch dishes thoughtfully prepared by Executive Chef Marc Therrien using locally sourced produce and seasonally inspired offerings. Enjoy craft cocktails from a signature cocktail bar (Don Julio on April 7, Maker’s Mark on April 14) and receive wagering techniques from a Keeneland BETologist. After Brunch from 11 a.m.-1 p.m., test your handicapping that afternoon in the exclusive members-only Keeneland Clubhouse.

Kids Club Family Day (Sunday, April 7) – The Keeneland Kids Club is our Official Kids Club for fans 12 and younger. Members and their families are invited to enjoy a special day at the races with free general admission and access to reserved Grandstand seating. Children’s activities will take place in the North Terrace from noon to 3 p.m.

Keeneland April Two-Year-Olds in Training and Horses of Racing Age Sale (Tuesday, April 9) – The auction, free and open to the public, begins in the Keeneland Sales Pavilion at 2 p.m.

Wear Red Day (Wednesday, April 10) – Fans are encouraged to wear red to Keeneland to help raise awareness of heart disease: the No. 1 killer of women. The first 3,000 patrons will receive a red dress pin.

Maker’s Mark Bottle Signing (Friday, April 12) – Sales of commemorative Maker’s Mark bottles have raised millions of dollars to benefit deserving causes in Central Kentucky. Fans can have their 2019 commemorative bottle signed at the Keeneland Entertainment Center beginning at 7 a.m. All tickets for the bottle signing are free and will be distributed via the online system onKeeneland.com beginning Monday, April 8, at 8:30 a.m. One ticket entitles the holder to have two 2019 Maker’s Mark commemorative bottles signed. At Wagering Central, The Keeneland Shop will offer patrons the opportunity to dip their purchases into the iconic Maker’s Mark red wax to commemorate Maker’s 46 Mile (G1) race day.

Military Day at the Races Presented by Marathon (Sunday, April 14) – Keeneland recognizes the men and women who serve our country. All active and reserve military and their families will receive free general admission and access to reserved Grandstand seating with military I.D. Military families are invited to enjoy free food and children’s activities in the North Terrace from noon to 4 p.m.

Horses and Hope Pink Day (Thursday, April 25) – Fans are encouraged to wear pink to support Horses and Hope, which works to increase cancer awareness, education, screening and treatment referral among Kentucky’s horse industry workers and special populations across the commonwealth. The event, in its 11th year at Keeneland, features a Horses and Hope race to honor breast cancer survivors.

Action for horseplayers

Keeneland offers a number of activities to educate novice fans and challenge experienced horseplayers. The home of wagering tools, tips and information is available at Wagering Central on the first floor Grandstand.

Wagering Central is the base for BETologists, Keeneland’s wagering experts who are easy to spot with their “Ask Me About Betting” button and vintage-looking fedoras and bow ties. They will answer questions and show fans how to wager from smartphones, tablets, self-serve wagering machines or a mutuel teller.

In addition, short educational sessions will be offered at Wagering Central. BETology 101 for beginning handicappers begins at 12:15 p.m. with sessions such as “The Vocabulary of Betting” and “Understanding Odds.”

BETology 201 sessions for intermediate bettors, which start at 12:45 p.m., include sessions presented by expert handicappers Tom Leach, Ellis Starr and more.

In addition, BETologists will roam the track and The Hill to help educate fans about wagering. Look for the specially branded“BETmobile” Golf Cart, which take BETologists into large tailgating groups and highly congregated areas to conduct pop-up betting demonstrations.

An inexpensive way for beginning handicappers to test their skills and give handicapping contests a try is the WINS-Day Challenge (Wednesdays, April 10, 17, 24). The contest has a $2,500-guaranteed pool. Enter for $10 at Wagering Central and place a mythical $2 win and place wager – no actual money required – on Keeneland races 3-8. Limit three entries per person. The first 200 participants receive a card for a free Malone’s appetizer and a complimentary copy of Daily Racing Form.

Handicappers should follow the Twitter handle @BetKeeneland for on-demand information and insights throughout the race day from expert handicapper Jeremy Polk as well as scratches, changes, clocker reports, track conditions, race results, carryovers and more.


$200,000 Friday Pick Four Presented by TVG (Friday, April 5, 12, 19).

$300,000 Guaranteed All-Stakes Pick Five and $400,000 Guaranteed All-Stakes Pick Four Presented by TVG (Saturday, April 6).

NYRA Cross Country Wager featuring races from Keeneland, Aqueduct and other tracks (Saturday, April 6, 13, 20).

$300,000 Guaranteed All-Stakes Pick Four Presented by TVG (Saturday, April 13).

$400 Spring Challenge (Saturday, April 13) – This handicapping tournament has a $400 buy-in with a live bankroll of $250 and $150 prize fund fee.

Grade One Gamble (Sunday, April 14) – This nationally prominent event has a $3,000 buy-in and as many as six spots in the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge and 10 spots in the NTRA National Horseplayers Championship up for grabs.

$300,000 Guaranteed Pick Four Presented by TVG (Saturday, April 20).

The Keeneland Shop

Recently renovated to better serve patrons and showcase its offerings, The Keeneland Shop has unique apparel and hats, home accessories, jewelry, artwork and gift items from such top vendors as The Beaufort Bonnet Company, Peter Millar, Barbour, Draper James, Darren K. Moore, Longchamp Crittenden, Henry Dry Goods and Catstudio.

The Keeneland Shop special events include:

A Taste of the Races (April 2; 4:30-7:30 p.m.) – Shoppers will enjoy specialty spring cocktails provided by Grey Goose. The first 200 attendees will receive their complimentary cocktail in the all-new Keeneland Heritage Catstudio glass as a gift. Shoppers also will receive an exclusive 20-percent  discount on all in-store purchases (some exclusions apply), on-site personalization from Barbour and other special offers.

Milliners Corner – Christine A. Moore Millinery (April 4-6, 12-14), Formé Millinery (April 12-14) and Dorfman Pacific (April 17-20).

Trunk Shows – Darren K. Moore (April 4-7), Maui Jim (April 5-6, 12-14, 19-20), Maker’s Mark (April 12) and Frederique (April 25-26).

Keeneland 2019 spring meet at a glance

Dates: April 4-26 (16 days). Keeneland is closed Easter Sunday, April 21.

Opening day (April 4)           Gates open: 1 p.m.     First post: 3 p.m.

Special events: After eight races, Keeneland will host Central Bank Thursday Night Live in the Paddock area.

Dates of the remainder of season: April 5-26           Gates open: 11 a.m.    First post: 1:05 p.m.

Every race day:

Admission: $5; children 12 and under free.

Parking: Free public parking available on a first-come, first-served basis near the Grandstand (Rows 15-20 and Rows 28-34) and adjacent to the Entertainment Center in The Meadow and on The Hill, the official tailgate lot, weather permitting. Click here for a map. Free shuttle to Grandstand available.

Website: Keeneland.com. Includes live streaming of all races at no charge.

Keeneland.com/media is a central hub of news, video recaps and replays, photo galleries, bios of leading Keeneland trainers and jockeys, and the official Media Guide.

TheKeeneland Race Day app features interactive options. See expert handicapping picks, entries, results, parking and grounds information and special events. The Bet Simulator walks you through how to place a wager from start to finish, and calculates the cost of bet and payoffs.