Keeneland to begin fall meet, host college days


Students cheer for their horse to win at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington , Ky.,on Friday, April 4, 2014. Photo by Michael Reaves | Staff 

Rick Childress

Changing leaves, sweater weather and pumpkin spice latte ads signal that fall has finally overtaken the Bluegrass.

The cooler weather also shows that it’s time for another Central Kentucky tradition: Keeneland’s fall meet is right around the corner.

On Saturday, Oct. 6, Keeneland’s bugler will play his first “Call to Post” of the fall season.

“I think students love coming to Keeneland because it’s a wonderful way for them to experience what the Bluegrass is all about,” said Kara Heissenbuttel, Keeneland’s director of employee and patron experience.

“I think that we’re all so lucky to live in the Bluegrass,” Heissenbuttel said. “It’s such a beautiful area and I think that Keeneland really highlights the beauty of the Bluegrass and southern hospitality.”

Keeneland’s southern hospitality is often directed at UK students. The track has several promotions specifically for college students.

College Scholarship Day on Oct. 20 will give students with a valid college ID free admission to the track, Heissenbuttel said. There will be free food, live music and after each of the day’s 10 races, a $1,000 scholarship will be awarded to a lucky student. Heissenbuttel said there will also be one drawing for a massive $10,000 scholarship. 

The SeeBlue Day at the Races on Oct. 27 will give free admission to UK students, alumni, faculty and staff, along with reserved Grandstand seating, Heissenbuttel said.

According to Keeneland’s website, the UK cheerleading team, mascot and band will also be there to inspire the Keeneland crowds the day before the football team’s kickoff against rival Tennessee.

Many students go to Keeneland specifically for the track’s tailgating lot, Heissenbuttel said. The lot has a jumbo-sized TV, access to wagering and several food trucks.

LexTran also offers a shuttle that travels to Keeneland every day of the fall meet. For $1, patrons can board the Keenland trolly and travel to the track from the downtown transit center, LexTran’s website said.

“So, if [students] are not from Lexington and came to UK for college, this is one of those things that they remember about their time spent here,” Heissenbuttel said. “It’s a tradition that they start as students and then after they graduate, they come back and have reunions and meet up with their old college friends.”

Keeneland’s general admission tickets cost $5. The gates open at 11 a.m., and the first race will begin at 1:05 p.m.