|Location||Lexington, Kentucky, United States|
|Owned by||Keeneland Association Inc.|
|Course type||Flat / Thoroughbred|
Blue Grass Stakes (G1/G2)
A view of Keeneland's grandstand at dawn, taken from the last turn leading into the home stretch
|NRHP reference #||86003467|
|Added to NRHP||September 4, 1986|
|Designated NHL||September 4, 1986|
Keeneland includes the Keeneland Racecourse, a Thoroughbred horse racing facility, and a sales complex, both in Lexington, Kentucky. Operated by the Keeneland Association, Inc., it is also known for its reference library.
In 2009, the Horseplayers Association of North America introduced a rating system for 65 Thoroughbred racetracks in North America. Keeneland was ranked #1 of the top ten tracks. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1986.
Keeneland was founded in 1936 as a nonprofit racing-auction entity on 147 acres (0.59 km2) of farmland west of Lexington, which had been owned by Jack Keene, a driving force behind the building of the facility. It has used proceeds from races and its auctions to further the thoroughbred industry as well as to contribute to the surrounding community.
The racing side of Keeneland, Keeneland Race Course, has conducted live race meets in April and October since 1936. The 15-day spring meet is one of the richest in North America, with fifteen graded stakes races featuring the Blue Grass Stakes, a prep race for the Kentucky Derby. The 17-day fall meet features seventeen graded stakes races, six of which are Grade One events used as Breeders' Cup preps.
Keeneland takes pride in maintaining racing traditions; it was the last track in North America to broadcast race calls over its public-address system, not doing so until 1997. Most of the racing scenes of the 2003 movie Seabiscuit were shot at Keeneland, in part because of the track's "retro feel". Keeneland was also used in the 2010 movie Secretariat for several key scenes, including the running of the Belmont Stakes where the horse completes the Triple Crown.
Nonetheless, Keeneland has adopted several innovations. In 1984 in preparation for a visit by Queen Elizabeth II, it built a trackside Winner's Circle and created the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes. In 1985, it installed a turf course over which the Challenge Cup, as well as a number of other turf races, is now run. It reshaped the main track and replaced the dirt surface with the proprietary Polytrack surface over the summer of 2006 in time for its fall race meeting. The track was restored to a dirt racing surface during the summer of 2014.
Keeneland was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1986.
Keeneland hosted the Breeders' Cup for the first time in 2015. The Breeders' Cup Classic was won by Triple Crown winner American Pharoah by six and a half lengths. He became the first to win the unofficial Grand Slam of horse racing; winning the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes and Breeders' Cup Classic. Many horse industry personal were skeptical of Keeneland as a suitable venue because the track and town were too small to host such a large event. However it was a huge success and even had a Thoroughbred Daily News writer report "I was wrong...it was spectacular" and how he "couldn't be more impressed".
Keeneland is the world's largest Thoroughbred auction house, conducting three sales annually: The September Yearling Sale, November Breeding Stock Sale, and January Horses of All Ages Sale. Horses sold at Keeneland sales include 82 horses that won 88 Breeders' Cup World Championship races; 19 Kentucky Derby winners; 21 Preakness winners; 18 Belmont winners; 11 recipients of the Eclipse Award as Horse of the Year; and five Epsom Derby winners. Graduates of Keeneland sales
The track has a miles (1,700 m) dirt oval and a seven and one-half furlong (0.875 miles (1,408 m)) turf oval. The turf course uses two configurations: the Keeneland Course setup has a temporary rail set 15 feet (4.6 m) out, while the Haggin Course has no temporary rail.
Keeneland has two racing seasons: a Spring Meeting in April and a Fall Meeting in October. The following stakes races have been run at Keeneland, some with changing names and sponsorships over the years.