BY SPECTRUM NEWS STAFF KENTUCKY
VERSAILLES, Ky. — When race fans weren’t able to head to Keeneland to watch the summer meet, it was time to find a way to bring those horse races home to the fans.
Aaron Smither is with the Woodford County Tourism Commission and said something had to be done to make the Summer Meet special.
“Part of that experience is coming to Keeneland with your friends and your family. It really has become a tradition. So, we wanted to have an environment, a space where people could come and do that.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed much about how we do things, including one of Kentucky’s pastimes.
Jon Rabinowitz owns the Amsden Bourbon Bar and says Keeneland is a big part of his business.
“We were really disappointed when Keeneland was canceled this year, because usually it’s our biggest time, but we understood the decision that was made. So, when the city decided to host an event like this in a safe and appropriate fashion, we were very thankful.”
To celebrate the Summer Meet in true Keeneland fashion, Woodford County Tourism teamed up with The Amsden Bourbon Bar to offer “Keeneland at Home”, an opportunity for horse racing fans to safely gather while socially distancing, and feel like they are part of the action as the horses leave the gate.
Amsden’s general manager Ben Nehring was also disappointed Keeneland wasn’t running traditionally.
“We look forward to it like Christmas every year. And it has been an interesting and challenging time.”
Helping to make the experience seem like you’re watching from the grandstand is Keeneland BETologist, Linda Art. On this day, instead of being at Keeneland, she has come to the Versailles to help horse racing fans get a better understanding of how to wager on the races.
“It’s a little weird, but it’s also a way for us to keep our hand in play. Because we enjoy fan education. Every BETologist that’s hired enjoys teaching the fans about the sport,” said Art.
It may not be the same as being at the track, but anything that allows you to feel like you are part of live horse racing while sipping on a Kentucky produced beverage is just about as close as you’ll get to being there.
Smither added, “If Keeneland decides to do a similar race meet in the future, we hope to be able to mirror this event and have more opportunities for people in Woodford County to come together and enjoy the races.”