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First time going to Keeneland--Advice Really Needed

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Boston, MA
posts: 18
reviews: 2
First time going to Keeneland--Advice Really Needed

Hello-

We're planning to visit Keeneland for the Spring Race Meeting in April. We're coming from the east coast and have never been here before so I'm hoping to get a little advice from those who know the area and track.

More specifically, we've found a lot of good info online about good restaurant and activity options in and around Lexington but my questions are more about maximizing a day at the races:

- I've seen some suggest getting breakfast at the track kitchen but the gates only open at 11? How does that work? Is the breakfast spot still there and accessible separately from the track?

- how many races would typically happen early in the spring meeting on a Friday or Saturday? Good to stay for all of them? How long should we plan to be at the track since just spending one day there?

- finally, is it worthwhile to book a lunch table for the buffets offered at the track in the Lexington/Kentucky Room, Phoenix Room or Equestrian Room? Looks to be about $40 per person. Worth it?

Thanks so much!

lexington
posts: 219
reviews: 17
1. Re: First time going to Keeneland--Advice Really Needed

Keeneland is a beautiful place. The track kitchen is back in the barn area and is not within the grandstand structure. There would be 10 races on Friday and 11 on Saturday. First post time is about 1:20, and the races are then 30 minutes apart. Wraps up at about 5:00 on Friday and 6:00 on Saturday.

Understand that it will be very crowded. If the Saturday visit is the day of the Bluegrass Stakes, the crowd will be extreme. The crowd on the ground level apron area and around the paddock is usually swarming with college students, most from out of town. And they will drinking. Lots. As such, getting a table in one of the rooms might be worth it. Lexington and Phoenix rooms are buffet, and the Equestrian room is a la carte. The Equestrian room opens out onto the track apron, so it will be very crowed if you leave the room to watch a race.

One more thing: Parking. Parking used to be a breeze at Keeneland (and free). Several years ago they set aside the lots near the grandstand as preferred lots, costing $10.00 or 5:00. The free parking is now up on a hill behind the grandstand and is quite a hike. Pay parking is worth it.

You can avoid a lot of trouble with crowds and parking by arriving early> Gates open at 11:00, and you would be wise to get in there no later than 12:00.

Lexington Ky
posts: 313
reviews: 53
2. Re: First time going to Keeneland--Advice Really Needed

Yes get a table if any are available! It will give you a landing spot. You will want to walk around the paddock. If you get there early lots of people tailgate before going in. It's loads of fun. People generally dress up as its a see and be seen kind of place.

We usually leave before the last race

Boston, MA
posts: 18
reviews: 2
3. Re: First time going to Keeneland--Advice Really Needed

Many thanks, eyewall and lexingtongal! Very helpful.

May I ask a follow up?

Is it redundant or wasteful to buy reserved seats and book a table if available? I ask because we'd already booked reserved seats when I then noticed the possibility to have lunch there also. On some dates, just the Phoenix room is avaiable and, as that one doesn't overlook the track, I'm assuming one wouldn't want to stay there during races? Rather, are you advising still a good idea to have lunch there and then maybe move to reserved seats?

Putting the heavy-drinking college types aside, do adults often plan to grab breakfast at the track kitchen before the gates open and then also book a table in one of the reservable rooms? Or is that overkill with good dinner options in Lexington for post race?

Also, thanks for the tip on parking. I'm guessing you can buy that when you arrive since I didn't notice the advance purchase option on the website?

Thanks so much once again--much appreciated! It's a bit confusing to figure out the best strategy from what's online but we are so looking forward to it!

lexington
posts: 219
reviews: 17
4. Re: First time going to Keeneland--Advice Really Needed

If you have reserved seats I would say that is all you need. You just want to be able to get away from the fray that occurs on the track level. You can grab lunch at any number of concession areas on all levels. Some serve Burgoo, a stew, that is highly recommended.

Sure, you can eat at the track kitchen for breakfast and then enter the grandstand after 11:00 a.m. Not sure how late they serve breakfast, though.

One thing you may want to try: go to the far end of the grandstand and go down to the track level on the side of the grandstand. There is a nice grassy/treed area there. You can see the horses being led from the stables into the paddock.

posts: 202
reviews: 1
5. Re: First time going to Keeneland--Advice Really Needed

I have done the buffets in the dining room but honestly prefer to sit out with the regular crowd and grab something from the concession stand. It is a matter of personal preference. The dining rooms have a dress code and are a little too stuffy for my taste.

Boston, MA
posts: 18
reviews: 2
6. Re: First time going to Keeneland--Advice Really Needed

Thanks again eyewall and cherylcam. This helps a ton. Much appreciated!

Lexington Ky
posts: 313
reviews: 53
7. Re: First time going to Keeneland--Advice Really Needed

There are many good dining options in Lexington. There are many great restaurants in downtown Lexington. Read through some reviews, pick someplace, and make reservations. If you have anything in particular in mind post it and we can give some recommendations.

sandston
posts: 6
reviews: 1
8. Re: First time going to Keeneland--Advice Really Needed

What day/date are you going? If a Saturday, look up info for Sunrise Trackside. You can do breakfast in Equist Room for 7.00, free walking tour, demos in paddock, picture taking w/ Bucky the bugler and q&a with a jockey. Pay 5.00 for the parking. We went last fall and it was so worth it, especially if you have an older adult with you as we did. IF going for Bluegrass Saturday, EARLY is the key for parking. Ten am is NOT early this day, last year at this time you waited 45 min to park all the way back into tailgate lot. We are planning an early day this year. We are also from east coast. Have a good time, you will LOVE. Keeneland, best track in US.

Boston, MA
posts: 18
reviews: 2
9. Re: First time going to Keeneland--Advice Really Needed

Hey nymets--thank you! Very interesting ideas. We'll be there on a Saturday though not "bluegrass Saturday." not sure if some of the things you suggested for at the track would still apply but we'll investigate. Thanks again!

10. Re: First time going to Keeneland--Advice Really Needed

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