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This is how you spend the perfect day at Keeneland

Abbey Cutrer
Horses walk the track after the second race on the opening day of the Fall Meet on Friday, Oct. 6, 2023, at Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Abbey Cutrer | Staff

Spring has always been my favorite season. The weather warms up and everything starts to bloom.

Spring in Lexington, however, adds something to the table that makes me love the season even more.

The Keeneland spring meet turned into a sort of tradition for me every year. I try to go to at least one race.

With opening weekend just around the corner, I thought I would share how I spend the perfect day at Keeneland.

For anyone who doesn’t enjoy waking up early, this might not be the ideal schedule for you to follow.

The gates at Keeneland don’t open until 11 a.m., but I like to get up early and go get breakfast or brunch beforehand.

First Watch or Biscuit Belly are my go-tos for any early morning meal, but I suggest you pick whatever restaurant you think will give you the best energy for the long day ahead.

While I’ve never eaten there, I still want to mention that Keeneland has its own restaurant on site called The Track Kitchen. I’ve heard good things, and it could be a good alternative for anyone wanting to sleep in a little later but still grab a bite before heading down to the races.

After eating, I like to head over and get parked on The Hill, which is the official tailgating area for those wanting to experience Keeneland in their own way.

I like to spend a little bit of time on The Hill before heading to the track. If you know anyone who is tailgating out there, this is the perfect way to pass some time while you wait for the races to start.

I like to head toward the gates right at 11 a.m., as it will be early enough that you can comfortably explore the track grounds.

This is typically the perfect time to peruse the Keeneland gift shop or to snap your Instagram pictures.

You can also sometimes catch the horses around the track before the races start for more picture-worthy moments.

If you are 21 and not driving, you can grab a drink at various areas set up around the general admission seating area. I recommend the Keeneland Breeze if you are looking for the best springtime cocktail Kentucky has to offer.

For anyone under 21 or not interested in alcohol, there are concessions placed all around the track with a variety of non-alcoholic drinks.

After grabbing pictures and drinks, you can spend some time socializing as you wait for the first race to start. I try to make plans to meet with friends I know are going to be at the track, but you never know when you could run into someone.

This is usually when the first race starts at 1 p.m. I typically have a general admission ticket, so I try to find a spot to stand close to the track to watch if there’s any room.

If you can’t find a close enough spot, you can always move up between races when everyone else heads to get drinks.

I usually stay at the track until about 4 p.m., but you can always stay longer or leave earlier. You can also head back to The Hill if you are just looking for a change of scenery.

I do suggest leaving early if you want to catch one of the shuttles back to your car.

You can call it a day here, or you can grab an early dinner if you are feeling a little hungry.

It is important to note that Keeneland was set to have already started construction on the park, which will most likely result in some changes to the typical flow of foot-traffic that we have seen in the past.

The construction is expected to be complete in time for fall meet of 2025, according to Keeneland’s website.

Downloading the Keeneland app could be a good idea for anyone new to the event or looking for some additional assistance.

Workers are also stationed around the park during race days and should be able to help with any questions you have.

Tickets for the season are already available for purchase on Keeneland’s website. General admission ranges from $7 to $15, and reserved seating starts at $15.

No matter how you plan to spend your day at Keeneland, I highly recommend experiencing the event at least once before you graduate. Just remember to enjoy the spring season and surround yourself with good company.

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Abbey Cutrer, Managing/Photo Editor

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    DuaneMar 30, 2024 at 4:21 pm

    Great peice! I love Keeneland and everything it offers. Good to hear a first hand experience from a local.