“Along the cushioned walks, in the paddock’s dappled shade, we are revived, renewed as our sight extends beyond the track, beyond the infield, to regions of lush possibility.”
-Richard Taylor, Poet Laureate of Kentucky
If Lexington is the heart of the Bluegrass State and the surrounding horse farms its lifeblood, then Keeneland Race Course must surely be its heartbeat. We visited Kentucky earlier this month prior to the spring meet and spent some time with our friend and Keeneland’s Director of Retail, Kyle Cassin.
When Kyle joined Keeneland in 2015, he brought a decade of golf merchandising experience with him. Having worked at both the USGA and PGA of America, he has a keen understanding of the shopping experience and product quality that consumers expect.
At first glance, Keeneland Shop looks very much like a pro shop at a top-tier golf club. This is intentional. Kyle understands his patrons and has created an environment that caters to even the most discriminating of thoroughbred enthusiasts. The tables are filled with perfectly folded shirts from an assortment of quality brands, and an array of props are meticulously curated throughout the space.
The Keeneland Shop is just the beginning. Once you head towards the track, the stunning beauty of the property is on full display. From the majestic stone entrances, to the rolling green pastures, to the paddocks and stables, Keeneland exemplifies understated elegance.
Keeneland has Spring (April) and Fall (October) race seasons, and is home to a number of horses that train throughout the year. These training sessions are in full swing during the morning hours, and we were lucky enough to catch one during our visit. The rhythmic sounds of pounding hooves and the horses’ deep breathing filled our ears as the fog was lifting off the track, creating an almost mystical aura.
The Keene family’s original vision of an understated race course has been thoughtfully realized and growth has been pursued carefully. Keeneland prides itself on perfection and honoring the course’s storied history.
One such nod to Keeneland's past is the KA wreath logo that is embroidered on the Holderness & Bourne product in the shop. This logo is featured on signage throughout the grounds and on the course’s main finish line post. It is an ode to the 85-year history of the track. This reverence to tradition and the property’s origins are what make Keeneland such a special place.
The April spring meets have just come to a close at this impressive property, and we’re proud to play a small role in the Keeneland patron experience. If you are ever passing through Kentucky’s largest city, a visit is well worth your while. Training is open to the public and usually begins around sunrise. We are grateful to Kyle and his team for welcoming us to Keeneland and taking the time to show us around.