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FAQ: Keeneland

Hello, friends. I hope you’re well. Did you see that thing the other day? That thing was amazing, or unsurprising, wasn’t it? I sure did or didn’t enjoy it, how did you feel? I completely agree or disagree with you. You know, I love these chats we have. I feel so close to you and value this time we spend together each week.

Friends, as you surely know by now, that wondrous time of the year is upon us; that time of year only signaled by the crisp smell of autumn air and paddock horse manure. It’s the phenomenal, marvelous Fall Meet at our very own Keeneland, and it never fails to bring happiness to central Kentucky. But perhaps you’re among the unitiated to Keeneland. Perhaps you wonder what the big deal is. Today we thought we’d bring you the information you so crave in a piece we’ll call, appropriately, Frequently Asked Questions about Keeneland. As always, you’re welcome. And have a fantastic weekend.


What is Keeneland?

Keeneland is a racing and sales facility for the Thoroughbred horse racing industry which opened in 1935 and which is consistently held to be one of the premiere racetracks in the entire country. Keeneland’s sales operations are also quite a big deal, bringing prospective owners worldwide to the Bluegrass each year, and the entire facility is a designated national historic landmark.

What can I do at Keeneland?

As was previously mentioned, you can — if you have the means — purchase a horse during Keeneland’s annual sales, or the casual racing enthusiast can visit Keeneland to enjoy placing wagers on a slate of races each day featuring some of the industry’s top jockeys, trainers and horses.

I don’t really know a lot about horseracing. Can I still go to Keeneland?

Yes, you can. The scientifically proven ratio of people who know something about horseracing to people who don’t know anything about horseracing on an average day at Keeneland is 497:1. Here’s a special tip: just act like you care if a race is on mud or dirt or grass,and that you think that changes things from what you were planning on wagering, and you can slide by without anyone questioning you because the statistical probability is that they don’t know anything either.

Can I ride a horse at Keeneland? That sounds like a hoot.

That depends. Are you an experienced jockey qualified to race horses professionally?


Then no, you cannot.

I would like to suggest the name “Gentleman Cat Burglar” as the name for a race horse. Don’t you think that’s a great name? And classy?


Can you tell me how to suggest this, or who I should contact?

The naming of a race horse is entirely up to the horse’s owner. Many times owners prefer to infuse part of the names of both sides of a horse’s pedigree to create that horse’s unique moniker. For example, if a horse’s father was named “Rim Shot” and its mother was named “Job Seeker,” it would only be natural for that horse to be named “Shot Seeker.”

Or maybe it could be called —

“Shot Seeker.” That’s all. Move on.

What’s a typical day at Keeneland like?

The Keeneland experience is a wonderful experience. It will begin with your putting on your finest clothing and heading out to the racetrack. There, you’ll purchase a program filled with valuable information you cannot possibly understand at all, but it contains the names of the horses running that day. You will also inevitably run into someone you didn’t want to see — an ex-boyfriend or girlfriend, a former co-worker — and be forced to make some small talk. Hopefully by then you’ll have a couple of bourbons in you, so this banter will be easy. Your first few bets of the day will be light — a couple of bucks here, a ten-dollar bet there — but by the end of the day you will be too intoxicated to care that you just placed a twenty-five dollar bet to show on a horse that has been scratched just because its name reminds you of a hilarious story that happened to your roommate. By three o’clock or so you’ll have spilled some gumbo on your shirt but you will be convinced no one can tell, and by five o’clock you’ll be rounding up people you don’t know to go to Rincon. By eight o’clock that night you’ll reach drunkenly into your pocket and find about twenty seven dollars in crumpled up fives and ones. Congratulations! You won!

Sounds like a great time. Let’s go. I’ll come visit in November.

Sorry, no.

Okay, We’ll do it in February. Or next June, when I’m in for my cousin’s wedding.

Nope. Sorry.

I don’t understand.

It’s okay; if you’re not a Kentucky native it’s reasonable for you to be confused. You see, Keeneland is only open during selected days in April and October. It’s like a magical Brigadoon of attractive people, bourbon, cigars and gambling — always confounding those who arrive outside of the predetermined time period so that those of us who live in Kentucky can talk about how wonderful it is to no end and then be completely unable to prove it to you.

So I’ll never know the majesty of Keeneland?

No, you won’t. We can’t just let anyone in on Keeneland, you know. But cheer up. Maybe there’s an art fair or traveling parking lot carnival in July I can take you to. That’s fun too.

You’re so mean.

Hey, I don’t make the rules, buddy.

Article written by C.M. Tomlin

All I want is a HI-C and a turkey sandwich. @CM_Tomlin

16 Comments for FAQ: Keeneland

  1. BobKYCats
    1:06 pm October 5, 2012 Permalink

    KSR should purchase a racehorse and name him “Not Jerry Tipton”.

  2. Uk Snuggie
    1:07 pm October 5, 2012 Permalink


  3. loose_deuce
    1:15 pm October 5, 2012 Permalink

    Classic Tomlin.

  4. T-fan
    1:16 pm October 5, 2012 Permalink

    classic T post. the horse naming bit is the best.

  5. schwing
    1:19 pm October 5, 2012 Permalink

    haha! rim job…

  6. Travis Ford's Jersey
    1:31 pm October 5, 2012 Permalink

    This post is absolute gold. Tomlin knocks it out of the park again. Nicely done

  7. jcatron
    1:34 pm October 5, 2012 Permalink

    Will the foot stabber be at Keeneland?

  8. tyson
    1:35 pm October 5, 2012 Permalink

    excellent post

  9. golf clap
    1:57 pm October 5, 2012 Permalink

    bravo sir. bravo.

  10. nitpicky
    2:06 pm October 5, 2012 Permalink

    You’re scientifically proven ratio is backwards. Your ratio suggests that there are 497 people who know about racing and 1 that doesn’t. Maybe you meant it to be that way, but I bet you meant it to read 1:497. Nit-picky I know, but I math guy.

    “The scientifically proven ratio of people who know something about horseracing to people who don’t know anything about horseracing on an average day at Keeneland is 497:1.”

  11. nitpicky
    2:07 pm October 5, 2012 Permalink

    Your* and I’m….Sorry, I was typing too fast.

  12. nitpickles
    2:08 pm October 5, 2012 Permalink

    i’m bored and smell like vinegar

  13. Linda Taylor
    2:20 pm October 5, 2012 Permalink

    1 – Lol
    Tomlin – Don’t forget Keeneland’s main track is now a Polytrack which means it is not dirt and therefore cannot be mud no matter how much it rains.
    If only it were true that the naming of a horse were just up to the owner. There is this little organization called The Jockey Club which is the group that registers the horses and approves the name. Here are their rules as regards naming a Thoroughbred:

    6. NAMING
    A. A name may be claimed on the Registration Application, on a Name Claiming Form or through Interactive RegistrationTM at Name selections should be listed in order of preference. Names will be assigned based upon availability and compliance with the naming rules as stated herein. Names may not be claimed or reserved by telephone. When a foreign language name is submitted, an English translation must be furnished to The Jockey Club. An explanation must accompany “coined” or “made-up” names that have no apparent meaning. Horses that were born in the United States, Puerto Rico or Canada and currently reside in another country must be named by The Jockey Club through the Stud Book Authority of their country of residence.
    B. If a valid attempt to name a foal is submitted to The Jockey Club by February 1 of the foal’s two-year-old year and such a name is determined not eligible for use, no fee is required for a subsequent claim of name for that foal. If a valid attempt to name a foal is not submitted to The Jockey Club by February 1 of the foal’s two-year-old year, a fee is required to claim a name for such a foal (see Fee Schedule).
    C. A reserved name must be used within one year from the day it was reserved. Reserved names cannot be used until notification requesting the assignment of the name to a specific horse is received by the Registry Office. If the reserved name is not used within one year from its reservation, it will become available for any horse. A fee is required to reserve a name (see Fee Schedule).
    D. A foal’s name may be changed at any time prior to starting in its first race. Ordinarily, no name change will be permitted after a horse has started in its first race or has been used for breeding purposes. However, in the event a name must be changed after a horse has started in its first race, both the old and new names should be used until the horse has raced three times following the name change. The prescribed fee (see Fee Schedule) and the Certificate of Foal Registration must accompany any request to the Registry Office for a change of name.
    E. Names of horses over ten years old may be eligible for use if they are not excluded under Rule 6(F) and have not been used during the preceding five years either for breeding or racing.
    Names of horses that were never used for breeding or racing may be available for use five years from the date of their death as reported.

    F. The following classes of names are not eligible for use:
    1. Names consisting of more than 18 letters (spaces and punctuation marks count as letters);
    2. Names consisting entirely of initials such as C.O.D., F.O.B., etc.;
    3. Names ending in “filly,” “colt,” “stud,” “mare,” “stallion,” or any similar horse-related term;
    4. Names consisting entirely of numbers. Numbers above thirty may be used if they are spelled out;
    5. Names ending with a numerical designation such as “2nd” or “3rd,” whether or not such a designation is spelled out;
    6. Names of living persons unless written permission to use their name is on file with The Jockey Club;
    7. Names of persons no longer living unless approval is granted by The Jockey Club based upon a satisfactory written explanation submitted to the Registrar;
    8. Names of racetracks or graded stakes races;
    9. Names clearly having commercial, artistic or creative significance;
    10. Names that are suggestive or have a vulgar or obscene meaning; names considered in poor taste; or names that may be offensive to religious, political or ethnic groups;
    11. Names that appear to be designed to harass, humiliate or disparage a specific individual, group of individuals or entity;
    12. Names that are currently active either in racing or breeding (see Rule6(E));
    13. Names of winners in the past 25 years of grade one stakes races;
    14. Permanent names. The list of criteria to establish a permanent name is as follows:
    a. Horses in racing’s Hall of Fame;
    b. Horses that have been voted Horse of the Year;
    c. Horses that have won an Eclipse Award;
    d. Horses that have won a Sovereign Award (Canadian Champions);
    e. Annual leading sire and broodmare sire by progeny earnings;
    f. Cumulative money winners of $2 million or more;
    g. Horses that have won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, Belmont Stakes, The Jockey Club Gold Cup, the Breeders’ Cup Classic or the Breeders’ Cup Turf; and
    h. Horses included in the International List of Protected Names.
    15. Names similar in spelling or pronunciation to the classes of names listed in Rule 6(F) 6 – 14 above.
    16. Names of horses previously recorded in The American Stud Book by the same sire or out of the same dam as the foal for which the attempt is made.
    17. Names of horses appearing within the first five generations of the pedigree of the foal for which the attempt is made.
    G. In addition to the provisions of this Rule 6, the Registrar of The Jockey Club reserves the right of approval on all name requests.

    Red tape abounds everywhere.

  14. oh my
    3:34 pm October 5, 2012 Permalink

    ^ well there’s your :1

  15. Sheriff Buford T. Justice
    3:48 pm October 5, 2012 Permalink

    Excellent post Tomlin, as usual.

  16. kymash
    7:00 pm October 5, 2012 Permalink

    Awesome horse naming!!