Spring is in the air, and that means that Keeneland is opening this week! If you’re heading to Lexington, Ky., for one of the biggest Kentucky Derby preps of the year, we have 10 things to know before you go to the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes.
1. Keeneland is opening on Thursday this year.
For the first time in 60 years, Keeneland is opening its gates on Thursday for its Spring Meet. Gates open at 1 p.m., the first race of the afternoon is at 3, and the racing action will run through 6:51 p.m. But don’t rush away from the track – after the races, there will be live music in the paddock area until 8:30.
2. The winner of the Blue Grass Stakes will almost definitely be in the Kentucky Derby.
The Blue Grass Stakes is one of the most important stops on the road to the Kentucky Derby because it offers its winner 100 qualifying points for the run for the roses. That means that the winner (and, most likely, the second-place finisher) will have a guaranteed spot in the starting gate at Churchill Downs. If you want to see Derby horses early and up close, get to the Blue Grass Stakes!
3. You can meet the jockeys.
If you’ve ever wanted to meet some of the world’s top jockeys, you’re going to have the chance on Thursday afternoon. From 1:30-2:30 p.m., you can snag autographs from current and retired riders just outside the walking ring.
4. Take some time to visit Horse Country.
If you’re going to be in Kentucky, why not take the opportunity to go behind the scenes at some of the most famous Thoroughbred farms in the world? Head on over to Horse Country, where you can sign up to take a range of tours of historic Thoroughbred farms, retired racehorse retraining facilities, and even veterinary clinics, and feed mills! If you’ve ever been curious about life on the farm, Horse Country gives you the chance to check out the scene.
5. Experience the party on The Hill.
If you’re going to be at Keeneland for the whole weekend, consider spending at least one afternoon on The Hill. The area will be open on Friday and Saturday (weather permitting), and it’s a great way to spend a fun day with friends. Bring a tailgate, or take advantage of the food trucks and Maker’s Mark experiences that will take place each day. There are also jumbo screens showing the races, plenty of places to bet, and live music.
6. New to playing the ponies? Find a Betologist and win big.
If you’ve never bet on horse racing before, it can be intimidating. Thankfully, Keeneland has pros on hand to help you out! Finding a Betologist is easy – just look for their distinctive fedoras and green vests. They’ll help you decide who to bet on; and more importantly, why – that way, you can apply that knowledge to future races and come out of the weekend with stacks of cash!
7. Speaking of betting, there are going to be a lot of opportunities to make big money over Blue Grass weekend.
While the Blue Grass Stakes is definitely the crown of the weekend at Keeneland, there are so many great races to play from Thursday through Sunday! With top races for horses who like grass, dirt, sprinting, or long distances, there will be plenty of action to keep you busy at Keeneland.
8. If you’re in college, you can get a scholarship just by going to the races.
Racing is tons of fun, but student loans? Not so much. If you go to Keeneland on Friday, April 5, you’ll not only get free admission, but also the chance at a $1,000 scholarship. Register online here by 5 p.m. on April 4 for your chance to win!
9. In the mood for something new? Keeneland has one of the best gift shops in the game.
If you love shopping, you’re going to adore the Keeneland Shop. From hats to koozies and home goods to clothing, there’s something for everyone in the store.
10. Brunch, anyone?
Keeneland’s Executive Chef Marc Therrien serves up a modern twist on classic brunch choices at Keene Place on Sunday. If you’re recovering from a big night out or just love breakfast food, be sure to check this out. Plus, you’ll get betting advice for the afternoon’s races and access to Keeneland’s exclusive clubhouse for the afternoon, so it’ll be a perfect start for a winning day!