They Turned Paradise Into the Breeders’ Cup

by Ed Meyer

posted on August 9, 2015 in Blogroll, Breeders Cup, Horse Racing, News, Other Events | No Comments >>

The grounds of Keeneland are manicured and pristine. If you’ve never had the opportunity to see beautiful Lexington, you’re in for a sweet surprise come October. The track will open on October 2nd, and will close the doors on October 24th. If you have the opportunity, make your way down and see the races. The magical “Brigadoon” of Thoroughbred racing appears for such a brief time, and if you don’t make it down, it will disappear until April. – That is until this year. The bucolic countryside and rolling hills will transform into a mega machine that is known as the Breeders’ Cup. – Right now, I can’t fully envision the morphing of historic Keeneland. But if they do anything, rest assured it will be done right.


From all reports, the grounds are showing signs of new construction. – No matter what incredible changes for the biggest weekend of racing. I’ll bet dollars to donuts there are plenty of “Keeneland Crew” walking the grounds kept abreast of every blade of grass that moves. It may sound a bit overwhelming, but that’s why it is so beautiful. – Keeneland is a National Historic Landmark, and what horse racing will look like when we reach “Pearly Gate Downs.”


According to Bob Elliston, Breeders’ Cup CEO. – ” We’re going to add about 8,000 accommodations for the weekend.”  The article from the Blood Horse was quoted during the interview; “What is being appended to the existing Keeneland experience is a first-class experience. We want to make sure it’s as good an experience you would have in a dining room in the clubhouse. “The clubhouse parking lot that runs along the homestretch will be occupied by rows of chalets with walk-out access to the rail. Most will be two stories, but the one at the end of the far turn will be a rare three-story structure with excellent views of the racetrack. Also off the far turn will be the Maker’s Mark Bourbon Lounge, a 3,200-person structure with access to the rail, and a lengthy chalet that will overlook the paddock.

As for the clubhouse—on regular race days a members-only area—two chalets will be built on the lawn that fronts the stretch for those who may be displaced by others indoors. “A lot of clubhouse members are already active in the Breeders’ Cup, so a lot of the clubhouse members will be in the clubhouse,” Elliston said. “But we know some people who use the clubhouse will be displaced, so we will have space for them in the chalets.” Elliston said the added premium seating doubles the revenue stream for premium areas at Santa Anita last year when it hosted the Breeders’ Cup.

Construction will soon begin on loge boxes that will be located just under the regular boxes that run the length of the grandstand. The boxes, which will provide another 1,560 seats, will be elevated to allow for access to the facility from the track apron.

As noted earlier, only people with tickets will have access to Keeneland on both days. Therefore Breeders’ Cup is shooting for attendance of about 45,000 people on each of the two days, not including employees, backstretch workers, and those on the grounds to prepare for the Keeneland November breeding stock sale. There will be about 36,000 people on the front side and another 9,000 in tailgate areas on the property.


At the end of the article, I began to see the vision. Once upon a time, I had the pleasure of working for Bob Elliston. He was always committed to the future, and the exposure of the greatest sport in the world. – In addition, I have worked with the good folks from Keeneland. – They have a tradition that is so rich its hard to walk through the place without hearing the hoof beats from the past. Secretly I didn’t want Keeneland to get the Breeders’ Cup. Even though I heard five years ago the proper planning was in the works. – It just didn’t seem right. The hallowed grounds of Keeneland is my special refuge 75 miles away from home. How many can say they can be watching some of the best racing in the world less than an hour from home ? – But when the Breeders’ Cup took its game to the next level, I knew that the winds of change would blow the sweet scent of spring blossoms. – The end result. If you can afford the price, this will be the “Ascot” of Lexington, Kentucky. If not, we’ll all be enjoying the view from our comfy couches and wagering on line. – Either way, you can expect to see the best in the world converge on Lexington.