Keeneland Race Course, Lexington, Ky.
by Brittlan Wall, America's Best Racing
Over the past year I’ve heard many things about many tracks, but one thing in particular was clear: opening weekend at Keeneland was something special, and if I ever got the chance to go, I’d be a fool not to take it.
You see, I have been in love with racing since I was a little girl, and until I was 15, I wanted to be a jockey. Unfortunately, the day I hit 5’6’’ and 120 lbs was the day that particular dream went down the drain. Even though my hopes of winning the Kentucky Derby (G1) were prematurely thwarted by Mother Nature, my love for the sport never subsided. Truth be told, as a now 21-year-old college student athlete, that love has only grown stronger over the years.
To say I was ecstatic when I was actually presented with the opportunity to attend opening weekend could very well be the understatement of the year. Not only would I be able to attend as a spectator, but I also would be able to volunteer with America’s Best Racing “Racing 101” fan education team throughout the entire weekend.
SHUT THE FRONT DOOR
I accepted the offer so fast it would have made Usain Bolt a little jealous.
Fast forward through two long, agonizing weeks and I was finally walking through the historic main entrance of Keeneland. The feeling I had was indescribable. Chills of excitement ran through me, and no, it wasn’t just because I was wearing shorts in 60 degree weather.
I felt like I had just stepped into something epic. The weather was perfect, and the enchantment that everyone had alluded to in previous conversations was almost palpable. Racing fans of all ages were dressed to the nines, handicappers were intently studying the Daily Racing Form, and there I was, just soaking it all in like a wide-eyed, red-headed sponge.
Throughout the weekend, I got to see horses like Wise Dan, Groupie Doll, and In Lingerie, and I got to meet a slew of trainers, handicappers, jockeys, and TV personalities. I got to be in the paddock for multiple races (press passes are fun), and I even got to check out the wicked sweet view from the eye in the sky (aka: the press box).
One of the best parts of all was being able to help inform race goers about the awesomeness that was our ABR Racing 101 Fan Tent. The entire team was so helpful to every single person that came into the tent, and it was a phenomenal experience just watching how they shared their passion and knowledge with someone who wanted to learn more.
America's Best Racing "101" Fan Tent
Katie Mikolay (Far LEFT), Joe Kiristufek (Far RIGHT)
Seriously, what did I ever do to deserve all of that? That question still has me scratching my head.
All I know is that I was so humbled to be surrounded by the history and splendor that is Keeneland opening weekend with people who have the utmost passion for the industry. Needless to say, I took an obscene amount of pictures, which I am not ashamed of in any way, shape, or form. I had to practically be dragged out of the track, and the entire 6-hour drive back to Georgia was enough time to let a full blown depression set in.
Seriously guys, if you ever get the chance to attend Keeneland opening weekend, you’d be a fool not to go. I’m thankful I got the chance (Joe Kristufek with HorsePlayerNOW.com, I’m talking to you!), and I keep going back through my pictures because I refuse to believe a weekend as special as this one is over. I’m no expert handicapper, but I’d be sure enough to bet that the experience Keeneland has in store would certainly not let you down!