Hello! I hope your week is off to a great start!
Whenever I go to Keeneland, I always think about what a special place it is. When I’ve shared about about our Keeneland outings, I’ve gotten a few questions and same about Trav’s job in the horse industry. So, today I’m sharing a bit about both of those things.
Travis made his way into the horse industry after a few years working in college athletics. He met me when he worked at Mizzou, but after a few years he wanted to move back home to work in the horse industry.
His job has evolved through the years but his primary role is as a “Stallions Nominations Manager.” That means that he’s basically a match maker for horses. 😂Really, what he does is his farm stands stallions for breeding. Owners submit requests for their mares breed to the stallions, and Travis has the final say on the request to breed. He looks at the mare’s pedigree and decides if it’s a good match for the stallion. They want the mares to produce the best horses, so he finds the right fit for the stallion or denies the request if there isn’t a good fit.
Then, he keeps up with the offspring of the stallions and promotes the race results on social media. During the various horse sales throughout the year, he also follows up with the offspring to look at their track performances and confirmation (physical structure). The past few years, he’s also started buying and selling horses for clients as well.
Travis is always working. Always. He loves what he does. I have never met anyone who looks forward to going to work every single day more than he does.
Did you know?
- All horses turn one on January 1st. So, you want a horse to be born in January if possible. (There is breeding season to ensure that they are born in January/February)
- Three year olds run the Kentucky Derby hence why it’s important to have an “older” three-year-old by May.
- The Triple Crown of racing starts with the Kentucky Derby (in Louisville on the first Saturday in May), followed by the Preakness Stakes (in Maryland), and the Belmont Stakes (in New York).
I’ve learned a lot through the years, but still always have many questions for Trav!
Now, on to a more exciting topic: Keeneland.
When people think of Kentucky, they often think of horse racing and Churchill Down because of the Derby. When my family would visit after I first moved here, they’d want to visit Churchill, but I will tell anyone who will listen that Keeneland is the place to be. Churchill is much more commercialized, whereas Keeneland is picturesque and just so special.
A few facts about Keeneland:
- It’s located in the Horse Capital of the World, Keeneland.
- The horses only run twice a year: the fall meet in October and the spring meet in April.
- They have tours and people also come to watch the horses’ morning workouts.
- There’s a Keeneland Kids Club with various events like Easter egg hunt and Sunrise Trackside with activities and breakfast.
- Their corned beef sandwich is my favorite!
- No racing on Mondays and Tuesdays.
- Keeneland’s mascot is Buckles.
When visiting Keeneland:
- You often need to buy tickets in advance, especially on Friday and Saturdays.
- Keeneland is family friendly, and many bring their kids out especially on Sundays.
- “The hill” is the hotspot for tailgating. There’s a jumbo tv, food trucks, and betting. (Some people hang on the hill and never even enter the track)
As far as the different seating areas…well, I think I’ve experienced close to all of them. Of course, I’m lucky to have Travis who can get his hands on some pretty great tickets somewhat easily, but we always have fun wherever we sit.
General admission and reserved Grandstand tickets are where most people sit.
General admission is fun if you can get close to track. We’ve been bringing the kids since they were little.
Hayden’s horse lost by a nose!
Keeneland is always a fun place to hang with friends: both big and small!
Grandstand tickets are under cover which is a bonus.
Also, in the Grandstand, many companies and farms have reserved boxes. If it’s sunny, a parasol can be provided! (hashtag: how southern!)
When your dad picks you up from school but needs to watch a couple of races….you get to hang out in the box!
We typically get Clubhouse tickets through Trav’s work, and it does seem like you have to “know someone” to get those tickets or be a club member.
There is a dress code for the Clubhouse: coat and tie for guys and no denim.
Clubhouse tickets are nice because it’s less crowded which means shorter lines for food, drinks, and the restroom. The Clubhouse has multiple levels and passes, and I feel like we’ve “done it all” through the years.
On the main floor, there are tables that aren’t reserved, both inside and outside. Once someone claims one, it’s probably theirs for the day.
(Forgive the photo quality – 2012 pic!), but the white tables and chairs options for outside seating if you can snag one!
Last spring, Travis and I had a great day hanging out in the sunshine on a Friday afternoon. (Spring 2021 had very limited ticket availability for the spring meet due to Covid)
More Clubhouse pics through the years…
The 4th floor has suites…
The 4th floor also has other dining rooms like the Phoenix room, Lexington room and Equestrian room where there are full dining menus and betting.
On Saturday, we were blessed to hang out in the Stakes Lounge on the 4th floor. Travis has been everywhere in Keeneland and he even said, “I didn’t know this room existed.”
A horse trainer couldn’t use his tickets and gave them to Trav. It was actually a smaller room with a couch and chairs as well as some high top tables and about ten tables of four seats. There was a buffet of food and a private bar and restrooms.
The roof top view was so pretty!
We had some friends who were available to go with us which was such an added bonus. As busy as everyone is, the Saturday before Easter apparently means no kids sports!
The Keeneland Bloody Mary can’t be beat!
We stayed until the second to last race, and it was a great day!
Through the years, as Travis has gained more responsibility at work, he really does end up at Keeneland a bit more than he used to. Sometimes, he gets an eyeroll from me 😆,but he has clients who have horses running or may be interested in buying a horse. Also, the stallions at his farm have horses running as well. How those horses perform certainly impacts the stud fee of the stallions who stand at the farm.
It’s not lost on me what a privilege it is to get to experience Keeneland whether it’s from the green benches in general admission or on the top floor with a view of the entire track. It’s always a magical experience spending the day at Keeneland.
While I’m sharing about Keeneland, it’s also worth sharing about the Horse Country farm tours. Much like the Bourbon Trail tours, there are so many farms you can tour as well. There’s actually a Horse Country passport to collect stamps from all the farms you visit. You’d think all horse farms are alike, but they aren’t. There’s so much history, and each one provides such a unique experience.
I hope you’ve enjoyed a little peek at one of the best things Kentucky has to offer: Keeneland. Let me know if you have any questions!
See you back here on Thursday.