Origin Story: Keeneland Race Course

In the horse racing sports industry, it is without a doubt that every enthusiast and expert knows about the Keeneland Race Course because of its beautiful track and ground. Some might have already visited the place and tried their luck betting on races. But aside from having a beautiful race track, what is Keeneland's significance and contribution in the horse racing industry?

Some might not be familiar with Keeneland's history and humble beginnings. Now you have the chance to discover more about Keeneland, its origin, and its amazing history on how this place became a well-developed race track in the entire North America.

Origin of the Keeneland Race Course

Owned by Jack Keene, Keeneland started as a nonprofit racing-auction entity in Lexington, Kentucky. It is then where all the proceeds go to support the Thoroughbred industry and the community. The Keeneland Association track got its form in 1933 when the Kentucky Association track got disbanded.

However, with a lack of funding and the major impact of the Great Depression, Keene is forced to sell his property and his dream. A committee on a search for a new race track bought the property. By then, the Keeneland Association track was now managed by the committee with Hal Price Headley to be its first president.

Keeneland Race Course Development

As years went by, Keeneland continued to develop and eventually held the track's first meet since its inception. On October 15, 1936, the Keeneland Association track opened its gate for all spectators and horsemen for a nine-day Fall Meet. It was a success as the first day of racing guest entrance was totaled to 25,337.

As Keeneland was envisioned to be a great horse race track, in September 1955, the first five-furlong training track was opened after almost a year of constructing and developing it. Also, during the 1961 Fall Meet, Keeneland used Visumatic Timer, making the race track the very first in America to use such quality standard timer.

All these improvements made the Keeneland race track betting much more exciting for all spectators, experts, and avid bettors. The venue's structural changes made it more comfortable for all guests and made the whole experience memorable.

Home to the Winning Triple Crown Contenders

The Keeneland Association track is not just a horse racing facility, but also a horse auction complex, known as Keeneland Sales. It is proudly renowned for being the world's largest Thoroughbred auction house with auction schedules every September "The Yearling Sale," November "The Breeding Stock Sale," and January "Horses of All Ages Sale."

Did you know that mostly Triple Crown contenders came from Keeneland Sales? The latest record shows that there are 22 Kentucky Derby winners, 24 for Preakness Stakes, and 20 for Belmont Stakes. One prominent sale the Keeneland made is the $8.2 single sale of filly offspring from the Triple Crown winner American Pharoah.

Horse Racing History

Recognized as one of the most beautiful race tracks in the world, Keeneland Race Course has a rich horse racing history that is worth remembering. One of its significant race histories is when Queen Elizabeth II visited the race track on October 11, 1984. To honor her visit, the association organized a race for fillies and mares in a one and ⅛-mile distance and named after the queen herself. This event is how the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup got its name.

Triple Crown Preparation

Furthermore, Keeneland has annual race meets, including the Spring Meeting in April and the Fall Meeting in October. The 15-day spring meet features the Blue Grass Stakes, a horse race for 3-year-old Thoroughbreds, which is a precursor to the Kentucky Derby.

Supposedly, the Blue Grass Stakes 2020, which is sponsored by Toyota, should have started last April. But due to the coronavirus pandemic, sudden changes have been made, ultimately affecting the timeline and the setup of the Triple Crown leg.

Future Races In Preparation

Even more so, the Keeneland Association, Inc. is hopeful to have their schedule set ready for the 2020 Breeders' Cup, where they are announced to be the host. Keeneland first hosted the Breeders' Cup in the year 2015, where the Triple Crown winner American Pharoah bagged the prize and won the Breeders' Cup Classic.

American Pharoah made a history of being the first horse to claim an unofficial Grand Slam recognition, winning all the prominent horse races. The Breeders' Cup Classic is the fourth leg in the horse racings' Grand Slam of Thoroughbred racing.


Getting to know the history of a race track lets you know some important historical facts about the place. The Keeneland Race Course is recognized as a National Historic Landmark and officially recorded in the National Register of Historic Places. Not only does it boast its wonderful race tracks, but it's also a home for some of the most dominating horses to compete in the history of horse racing.

When all things go well with the preparation of the upcoming races in the Keeneland Race Course, you'll get to look at the place from a different perspective. Let the track's history keep you excited and watch the races and enjoy the entire experience.

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