The traditional final weekend of the Keeneland fall meet provided a glorious backdrop for the racing rituals as the tree leaves were turning crimson and gold at last. I had been out of town for three of the week’s four race days, so this was my first opportunity to see how it looked like a true fall meet.
The weather was rainy off and on, but fortuitously didn’t fall heavily until the last race concluded. The intermittent rain left its mark on the turf course, and all races were contested on the main track, including the closing day stakes race. Interestingly from patrons’ standpoints, a larger than usual number of races began and ended in front of the grandstand, and included a mile race, which I believe is a race distance not typically used at Keeneland but rolled out during this meet because of the Breeders’ Cup Mile.
The last race was run, the last horse went back to the barn, the trailers rolled in to take the horses shipping out, Corey Lanerie won his first leading jockey title at Keeneland, and the crowds went home. There was a bit of that usual wistful feeling that the meet is over, though it didn’t fully hit me until I went to the track kitchen for another taste of bread pudding and happened to glance at the photos of renowned horses on its wall that my nephews had sought out earlier in the meet, looking for years that coincided with their birth dates. But then, that did have more to do with wanting to see them than missing the meet even though it just concluded.
After all, there are three more days of racing and this is merely an interlude, a conclusion so there can be a new beginning…. a highly anticipated beginning of Keeneland’s first Breeders’ Cup. After all the wait and all the preparations, the moment is nearly at hand. I feel so lucky it is all happening practically in my backyard.