|Location||Lexington, Kentucky, United States|
|Owned by||Keeneland Association Inc.|
|Course type||Flat / Thoroughbred|
Blue Grass Stakes (G1)
A view of Keeneland's grandstand at dawn, taken from the last turn leading into the home stretch
|NRHP Reference #||86003467|
|Added to NRHP||September 4, 1986|
|Designated NHL||September 4, 1986|
Keeneland includes the Keeneland Racecourse, a Thoroughbred horse racing facility, and a sales complex, both in Lexington, Kentucky, USA. Operated by the Keeneland Association, Inc., it is also known for its reference library on the sport, which contains more than 10,000 volumes, an extensive videocassette collection, and a substantial assemblage of photo negatives and newspaper clippings.
In 2009, the Horseplayers Association of North America introduced a rating system for 65 Thoroughbred racetracks in North America. Keeneland was ranked #1 of the top ten tracks. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1986.
Keeneland was founded in 1935 as a nonprofit racing–auction entity on 147 acres (0.59 km2) of farmland west of Lexington, which had been owned by Jack Keene, a driving force behind the building of the facility. It has used proceeds from races and its auctions to further the thoroughbred industry as well as to contribute to the surrounding community. The racing side of Keeneland, Keeneland Race Course, has conducted live race meets in April and October since 1936. It added a grass course in 1985. The spring meet contains several preps for the Kentucky Derby (held the first Saturday in May), the most notable of which is the Blue Grass Stakes. The fall meet features several Breeders' Cup preps.
Keeneland takes pride in maintaining racing traditions; it was the last track in North America to broadcast race calls over its public-address system, not doing so until 1997. Most of the racing scenes of the 2003 movie Seabiscuit were shot at Keeneland, because its appearance has changed relatively little in the last several decades.
Lately, Keeneland has adopted several innovations. It reshaped the main track and replaced the dirt surface with the proprietary Polytrack surface over the summer of 2006 in time for its fall race meeting. Rogers Beasley, director of racing at Keeneland since 2006, describes the track as "selectively conservative."
Keeneland was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1986.
The Keeneland Association partnered in 2013 with Full House Resorts in a plan to buy Thunder Ridge Raceway, a harness racing track in Prestonsburg, Kentucky. The facility would be razed, and its license would be transferred to a new Quarter Horse track to be built in Corbin. The purchase is contingent on the formal legalization of slot machine-like Instant Racing devices, at least 300 of which would operate at the new track.
Keeneland will host the Breeders' Cup for the first time in 2015.
In the thoroughbred racing world, Keeneland is equally famous for its other side—its sales operation. It holds four (previously five) annual horse auctions that attract buyers worldwide.
Keeneland Association, Inc. also owns half interest in Turfway Park at Florence, Kentucky; casino and race track giant Harrah's Entertainment owns the other half interest. Through Turfway, Keeneland also owns a part of Kentucky Downs, near Franklin, Kentucky.
Keeneland Association's influence is felt throughout the industry and in Kentucky politics. In recent years, its opposition to allowing slot machines at race tracks in the Commonwealth has largely squelched the issue on the floor of the General Assembly. Competition from riverboat casinos (and Keeneland's "strange bedfellows" partnership with Harrah's at Turfway) is starting to reduce that opposition by the association's members. This ownership arrangement partially explains Keeneland's fondness for tradition.
The track has a one and one-sixteenth mile (1710 m) Polytrack oval and a seven and one-half furlong (1509 m) turf oval. As noted earlier, the Polytrack surface was added between the 2006 April and October meetings. The turf course uses two configurations: the Keeneland Course setup has a temporary rail set fifteen feet out, while the Haggin Course has no temporary rail.
Keeneland has two racing seasons: a Spring Meeting in April and a Fall Meeting in October. The following stakes races are run at Keeneland:
Grade I races:
- Alcibiades Stakes
- Ashland Stakes
- Blue Grass Stakes
- Breeders' Futurity Stakes
- First Lady Stakes
- Maker's Mark Mile Stakes
- Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes
- Royal Chase for the Sport of Kings
- Shadwell Turf Mile Stakes
- Spinster Stakes
- Vinery Madison Stakes
Grade II races:
- Beaumont Stakes
- Commonwealth Stakes
- Elkhorn Stakes
- Fayette Stakes
- Raven Run Stakes
- Jenny Wiley Stakes
- Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes
Grade III races:
- Appalachian Stakes
- Ben Ali Stakes
- Bewitch Stakes
- Bourbon Stakes
- Bryan Station Stakes
- Doubledogdare Stakes
- Lexington Stakes
- Perryville Stakes
- Phoenix Stakes
- Shakertown Stakes
- Sycamore Stakes
- Transylvania Stakes
- Valley View Stakes
- Woodford Stakes
Non-graded stakes races:
- Buffalo Trace Franklin County
- Clark County Stakes
- Forerunner Stakes
- Fort Harrod Stakes
- Jessamine County Stakes
- Lafayette Stakes
- Palisades Stakes
- Rood and Riddle Dowager
- Storm Cat Stakes
- Stravinsky Stakes
- Warfield Stakes
- "NPS Focus". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. Retrieved July 1, 2010.
- Keeneland Magazine - Blood-Horse Publications designation approved by Keeneland Association, Inc.
- "Rogers Beasley Keeneland Director of Racing". Bloodhorse.com. 2006-09-27. Retrieved 2009-10-24.
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13.
- Tom LaMarra (February 15, 2013). "Keeneland: Track plan about horse industry". The Blood-Horse. Retrieved 2013-02-15.
- Janet Patton (February 14, 2013). "Keeneland aims to build prime Quarter Horse racetrack near Corbin". Lexington Herald-Leader. Retrieved 2013-02-15.
- Blood Horse: 2011 Graded Stakes: 13 Fewer Than '10