Giddy Up For a Good Time at Keeneland

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October 21, 2012 by ET

Win, place and show me the money (and a pretty darn good time). Against the backdrop of the rolling Kentucky countryside, Keeneland has been a Lexington tradition since 1936. Complete with tailgating, $2 bets and your fair share of bourbon, a day is just as exciting as any SEC football game.

I recently made the trip to Lexington for Keeneland’s Fall Meet, which is held annually throughout the month of October. The changing leaves and beautiful fall sunshine gave the already gorgeous grounds a magical feel.¬†Even if I didn’t know how to pick my ponies, I couldn’t have picked a better day to spend at the track. I purchased my $5 general admission ticket and entered the stands. “Good lucky today,” said the man behind the ticket counter.

We arrived at the track about an hour-and-a-half before the first race’s post, plenty of time to purchase a program to review the upcoming races (and to saddle up with a Bloody Mary).

There are many of pre-race(s) festivities to keep you occupied and make you tardy to the betting window. In addition to the tailgating that happens in the parking lot outside of the track, inside the gates guests can partake in walking tours of the grounds, photo opportunities with Keeneland bugler Bucky Sallee and Q & A sessions with the jockeys. Add mixing, mingling and drink sipping, and you could spend the whole day without seeing a single horse.

Though it’s more casual than the Kentucky Derby, we’re in the South, and we sure love an excuse to dress our best. Brightly colored dresses paired with riding boots could be found on many ladies at the Fall Meet, and the fellows looked dapper in their button-down, collared shirts.

After pausing to listen to a symphony performance of My Old Kentucky Home and The Star Spangled Banner, we headed to the betting window to place our bets for the first race. I placed a total of $6 on two horses to win and to win and show.

Don’t assume that the cheap seats are second-class, because the general admission section is the prime location for race-goers looking for front row, trackside action. We pushed ourselves up to the rail and waited for post.

And they were off! “Come on six! Come on six! Get there! Get there! Come on two!” I screamed as the stands erupted with cheers from an audience full of folks equally sure their horse was the winner.

In a matter of seconds it was over. When the official race results were announced, horse number two had finished third, winning me show.

I took my winnings and placed my bets for the next few races. I was feeling lucky. At the end of the day, after all of the track dust had settled, I walked away with $14.60. It was enough to pay for a bourbon drink and to make Keeneland an October tradition from here on out.

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