Welcome to America’s Horse Country. If you’re a fan of racing you’ll already have the renowned Kentucky Derby ear-marked on your calendar, but there’s plenty for horse-lovers to explore and do all-year-round in the bluegrass state. Whether you want to raise a mint julep to the thunder of hooves or saddle-up and explore the horse trails yourself, Kentucky’s theatre of races is not to be missed.
One track that should be on every racing fan’s radar is Keeneland in Lexington. It’s the state’s second largest track, hosts world-class racing events in spring and autumn, and even has its own library where you can read about racing’s storied past. It’s also particularly picturesque with beautiful parklands framed by Kentucky’s pastoral bluegrass scenery.
TOUR A PRIVATE HORSE FARM
Want to find out how Kentucky grooms its award-winning horses? Head to one of the many private horse farms that dot the state to catch a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the life of a Kentucky thoroughbred. You may even get to see future Derby winners as they are born and raised.
MEET OLD LEGENDS
If you want to meet some of the biggest names in Kentucky’s racing history, head to Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Farm in Georgetown. Founded in 2003, some 150 race-winning thoroughbreds are growing old gracefully in this non-profit farm. Derby champ Silver Charm and Breeder’s Cup winner Gulch are just some of the retired stars you can get to know over a carrot stick or two.
Another key date for race-lovers is the Rolex Kentucky. The cream of Kentucky and racing society flock Lexington’s Kentucky Horse Park for this three-day event which kick-offs the international eventing calendar each year. Watch the world’s finest horses and riders show off their skill in elegant dressage performances before soaking-up the thrill of the cross-country gallop and jumping events.
If you want to spend time in the saddle yourself then you’re spoilt for choice in Kentucky. Horses are just as much a part of life here as bluegrass or bourbon. Everywhere you look you’ll see thoroughbreds grazing in undulating meadows or riders out on the trails which criss-cross the state. Harrodsburg near the Shaker Village is a good choice for open fields of beautiful bluegrass or try South Central Kentucky for a backdrop of woods, lakes and wildflowers.
THE KENTUCKY DERBY
Hailed as ‘The most exciting two minutes in sports’, Kentucky’s world famous Derby is considered an experience of a lifetime. While the thoroughbreds battle on the track, parties break out onto the streets of Louisville; it’s like Kentucky’s own version of Marti Gras. Grab your best hat and a mint julep and join in the Derby mania.