04.18/Keeneland

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Featured for April: A day at the track

There’s nothing better than spending a sunny day at the races.

It has beauty and color, with magnificent thoroughbreds in the paddock or on the track and jockeys wearing bright silks. It has excitement and drama, watching the horses fly toward the finish line in hopes that your horse arrives first. It has the thrill of victory (cashing a winning ticket) and the agony of defeat (throwing away a losing ticket). There’s food. There’s drink.

It’s all part of a recipe for a fun day.

My wife and I visit Keeneland, the historic race track in Lexington, Ky., twice a year to enjoy some racing. It’s also an opportunity for me to grab some new racing photos (the track is very camera friendly).

I usually try to get traditional racing action photos — close-ups of the horses battling down the stretch, etc. But I also try to get some photos in the paddock, where horses warm up and are saddled before the race, and some non-traditional photos.

I’ve spent spring and fall days at Keeneland for years. My father took me when I was younger. I took him as he got older. And my wife and I go every spring and every fall, spending a day at the track and a few days with friends on each trip.

Keeneland has hosted races since it opened in 1936. It’s one of the nation’s most “traditional” race tracks, retaining the same look and feel through the years while still adopting new technologies (even though it was the last race track in North America to broadcast race calls over a public-address system, adopting that practice in 1997). Keeneland was used for most of the racing scenes in the 2003 movie Seabiscuit because its appearance has changed little in decades.

Keeneland is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1986. In 2009, Keeneland was ranked as the number one track in America by the Horseplayers Association of North America.

I add a new featured gallery the first of each month. The numbers in the gallery title represent the month and year it was featured. Last month’s featured gallery, with photos of Tree Swallows, has been moved to my featured gallery archives.

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