Maker’s Mark Opens Up Keeneland Racecourse

With a shot at a Triple Crown hanging in the balance this weekend, Exaggerator upset the previously unbeaten Nyquist to win the Preakness. But, before Exaggerator could step into thoroughbred racing history, it passed through Keeneland.

Located just outside Lexington, Kentucky, Keeneland is the heart of major horse racing in the United States and one of the world’s great meccas for the buying, selling, training and racing of great horses.

Founded in the 1930s, Keeneland is much more than the top-ranked equine race course in the United States. It’s the world’s largest thoroughbred auction action spot, bringing the Sport of Kings’ buyers from around the world to big on the planet’s fastest horses.

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Every year, Keeneland offers The September Yearling Sale, The November Breeding Stock Sale and The January Horses of All Ages Sale. Anyone can attend to watch those with horse sense and millions of dollars pick their steeds. As of this weekend, 19 Kentucky Derby winners, 22 Preakness winners and 18 Belmont Stakes winners came through Keeneland. 

The official whiskey of Keeneland is Maker’s Mark, the small batch distiller with its home base within an hour’s drive of the track. Keeneland worked with Maker’s Mark Bourbon to create its own blend. To celebrate the partnership, Maker’s Mark invited a small group of journalists to the track for a day of racing.

I donned my bad seersucker suit, my race cap, put a carnation in my button hole and had a look around the expansive, immaculate grounds of this horse racing capital alongside the well-heeled folks who buy, sell, train and bet on these gorgeous animals.

You can check out some of the Keeneland sites in the gallery below. But, you don’t get to sip the bourbon or win the money unless you visit yourself.

All photos by John Scott Lewinski