Keeneland Racetrack. (Or, This One’s For You, Mancini)
The next few trails I wanted to hike were in the Red River Gorge of the Daniel Boone National Forest, upstate of the Big South Fork Recreation Area. I had driven north and was prepared to set out but the next morning but the weather took a turn and the original cloudy forecast became an 80 percent chance of thunderstorms. Since the trails followed exposed ridges I decided instead to delay the hikes and instead take the day to get an oil change, read a few books, and explore the Lexington area a bit. By late afternoon my missions had been accomplished and I was driving around aimlessly, enjoying the rolling green hills of the Kentucky horse farms when I came across Keeneland Racetrack. Thinking I might be able to see some horses up close (and intrigued by the signs promoting drive-through horse betting) I decided to turn in.
I parked and started wandering since there was a break in the rain but the place seemed almost entirely abandoned. No horses, no workers, no visitors. It wasn’t until I entered the grandstand that I finally saw a few people near the track, the women in formal dresses and the men in suits. Turns out there was a small wedding scheduled for that evening though it still seemed odd that I hadn’t come across anyone else at this point since I had wandered all the way through the grandstand and down to the track. Between the absence of other people and the strange looks being given to me by the wedding guests (which I’m assuming was due to my being dressed in a flannel and bandana) I continued on, eventually finding my way out by the barns and then looping back towards the track entrance – which was wide open. I walked onto the track fully expecting some official-looking person to materialize and tell me I wasn’t allowed to be there but I was left alone. So unfortunately, even though I walked through multiple barns in addition to the track, I didn’t see any horses whatsoever but it was actually pretty neat just being able to wander around the grandstand and barn areas. I passed a museum and gift shop on my way out but both were dark so I wasn’t able to find out something more about the historical value of the racetrack.