You’ve heard for years that Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Ky., is a must-visit destination if you consider yourself a fan of Thoroughbred racing. You watched the track host the Breeders’ Cup World Championships for the very first time in 2015, and heard guests chatter on NBC time and time again in between races, “Man, this place is great.” You witnessed American Pharoah soar into history amidst a picturesque backdrop and throngs of cheering fans, and said to yourself, “I have got to see this in person.”
And so you’re on your way, eager to experience one of the world’s true jewel racetracks. If you are heading to Keeneland for the fall 2022 meet, heading to the track for its third hosting of the Breeders’ Cup a month from now, or planning something in the near future, there are many things to prepare for. Perhaps the most important of those (well, after deciding which horses to bet on) is sampling the track’s top-notch dining and drinking options.
Keeneland is famous through the years for having some of the best racetrack food in North America, spanning the gamut from formal dining rooms all the way down to grandstand options. The Keeneland Association took over food services from longtime vendor Turf Catering a few years ago, but the quality hasn’t diminished one whit. Here are five food and drink options and locations for first-time visitors. These are staple selections, recommended especially for on-foot, adventurous types who have not reserved a seat in advance at one of Keeneland’s several fine dining rooms.
Note: This guide was originally published in 2016 and was updated each year through 2019…. pre COVID, in other words. Keeneland, like most other tracks, had very limited attendance in 2020 and in fact cancelled its spring meet and banned public attendance in the fall. The track opened back up to fans in spring 2021 and has allowed general admission ever since – but tickets must be purchased online in advance. Click here for more information and to purchase tickets.
Find a map of the Keeneland grounds, including all their dining options, click here.