Home Away From Home

Churchill Downs and Keeneland

The day started very early as we got up at 5:30 to head to Churchill Downs. Landy called and said that Sandy wasn’t feeling well and they wouldn’t be going so Jerry and I took off arriving about 7:00. Our first tour was of the barn and the backside and we got to ride through the stables and then watch the horses work out. We stood in a little raised box to watch the horses. Got to see D. Wayne Lucas riding around in his western saddle and cowboy hat. The horses on the outside of the track are waiting their turn, the horses in the middle are galloping or breezing and the horses on the inside of the track are out and out racing. It is surely organized chaos, certainly nothing like the saddle horses working out in the ring after the show. They horses work from 6:00 to 8:00 and then the track closes for a while and reopens for another couple of hours.

They have “dorms” for some of the people working there. Interestingly enough stalls are rented at $7.50 a day and some trainers elect to leave their horses there. They only have about 800 horses on site now but the fall season starts at the end of the month so more will be coming in soon.

We returned to the museum and went through that. We watched a panoramic 360 degree movie that was spectacular. My little stool was quite clean by the time the movie was over as I had spun around a number of times. The museum was very interesting. I made a pretend bet – lost of course, took some pics and wandered around for a bit.

churchill-downs-3Then we went to tour the grandstand. The twin spires are so impressive as are the various rooms. We were able to go into Millionaire’s Room where Queen Elizabeth watched the races one year. To say it was nice and plush is quite an understatement! We also went into another room which for $35 you can attend the race, sit at tables, go out on the balcony for the races and eat at the buffet all day – except during the Derby week-end and the Breeder’s Cup.

We had the rest of the day to ourselves so since neither of us had ever been to a horse race back to Lexington we headed for the races at Keeneland. What an exciting afternoon and new experience for us. We found a parking space in a huge lot, so big I wondered if we’d ever find our car once we left it!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESWe went into the general admission area along with many other people some dressed to the nines and some quite casually. We had heard that it was college day and apparently the college kids were the ones that were so dressed up. Sure would have hated to be walking around in those high, high heels!

Jerry studying the racing form
Jerry studying the racing form
Since we knew nothing about what we were doing we decided we’d spend $20 betting. Jerry placed most of the bets but I finally placed one. How did we make choices? No idea except we had heard that we had heard that Rosie Napravnik had won some the previous day so we bet on her when she rode. I think she announced her retirement the next day! The day seemed to be a lot of hurry and wait. It only takes a few minutes for the race to run and then there’s the set up for the next race and that definitely takes longer! It was so much fun and quite an experience for a horse show girl. On the way back to the car Jerry leaned down and picked up a time off of the ground – the extent of our winnings that day!

The trip back was – um, interesting. The Rand MacNalley GPS does NOT know the way from Lexington, KY to Louisville, Ky. We got so lost and lost cell coverage as well. Stuck in traffic Jerry suddenly looked up and asked if the exit ahead was the one we were supposed to take. Yep, it was but the GPS didn’t know it. We made it back to the campground and then it was so dark we couldn’t find our RV! The campground roads wind and we kept going by Sandy and Landy’s but couldn’t locate ours. I was beginning to think someone had stolen it! What an evening!