Notes from Lexington

Twenty-four hours in Lexington under my belt, and I already know that I’m never going to get to do everything I want in this short stay. I’ve crossed a return to Midway off of my list, though I can’t imagine how I can give up another stop in that terrific bookshop downstairs from the café. Having spent Friday morning at a couple of breeding farms, I’m not going to be able to squeeze in a visit to another one. And if I actually have drinks with everyone I’d like to, I’ll be drunk from now until the moment I get back in the car to drive home.

Speaking of which, I did manage to make a stop at the Liquor Barn, which is the most awesome liquor store I’ve ever entered. It wasn’t far from my hotel when I was here in March, and it was within sight of the restaurant where I had dinner last night with Frank of That’s Amoré Stable and his wife Erin, along with some folks who are part of their partnership. I am an unadulterated fan of this one-stop, party central/liquor store/grocery market, and last night didn’t disappoint: As I perused the bourbons, the store’s resident expert came over and discoursed with me about the merits, production, and flavors of at least half a dozen of them. I learned as much from him as I did from my tour of the Woodford Reserve distillery last spring.

In other epicurean news, I finally, on my third trip to Kentucky, had a hot brown. My gracious host, Maryjean Wall, fellow Thoroughbred Blogger Alliance writer (Celebrating the Horse) and journalist, brought me on Thursday night to one of her favorite local restaurants, Rail Heads, a few miles up the road from Keeneland in Versailles. Their website does not list the hot brown as it’s currently served, but it’s cornbread, bacon (applewood smoked in this case), and turkey, covered with a sauce consisting of flour, egg, cheese, and milk. A light meal it is not, and thoroughly enjoyable, though I think that I managed to put away only about a third of it.

Friday was college day at Keeneland; according to a Keeneland press release, scholarships and “Smartphones” were given away after each race. The good news is that Keeneland was teeming with thousands of festive, enthusiastic college kids; the bad news is that Keeneland was teeming with thousands of festive, enthusiastic college kids. They shouted about their bets, gathered in large throngs, and veered between two sartorial choices: spring finery (the weather here is amazing; 80+ yesterday, with more of the same today) and Wildcat blue.

As I entered the track mid-card, I saw one very nicely dressed young man in handcuffs being escorted out by a police officer; behind, several of his compatriots followed. Their wrists appeared to be unencumbered, but other officers had them firmly by the arm. No word on their offense.

Yesterday’s attendance was 22,000, according to Jennie Rees in the Courier-Journal, good news for a meet that had seen attendance declines. Not so good news for those of us trying to get around; it was nearly impossible to move around the paddock area, and on the ground floor—indoors and out—the place was packed. Upstairs breathing was a little easier, but I rather wished that I’d made it to the races on Thursday, when the crowd was much smaller.

Given the weather forecast and today’s race card, I imagine that Keeneland is expecting quite a crowd. Maryjean has a preview up, and I’ll be over there bright and early, with a full report to follow, along with posts about the magnificent Keeneland library (can I just live there?) and a morning at the farms.

3 thoughts on “Notes from Lexington

  1. To steal from Yogi, “Nobody goes to Keeneland anymore; it’s too crowded.”The last thing we need at the track is a big crowd…

  2. The trip seems splendid indeed and you know doubt are encouraging many a trip to be booked for 2009.I understand the frustration of a large crowd and the nature of a young “enthusiatic” crowd but If only 5% of the college kids who gathered become lifelong fans, the promotion is worth it.

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