A perfect autumn Saturday, as Oct. 15 was, couldn’t have been spent in a better way than at Keeneland, I realized as I went outside during work on my lunch break that day and then later found it good for my soul to be out in the sun and near horses.
I was there for the feature, the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup on the turf. I came to see Catch a Glimpse, whose chestnut coat caught the sun and almost reflected it back. But after setting the pace early, the finish and the win belonged to Time and Motion.
As I drove away from the track once the card ended, I was thinking how Keeneland has gone on for generations of horsemen and patrons, fans and bettors, and will after I’m gone too. This was not a morbid thought, it was more along the lines of being grateful that I got to be part of it all as many before me were and many after me will be.
Later, I read that this was actually the anniversary of Keeneland’s first day of racing, on Oct. 15, 1936, and it made it seem even more fortuitous that I had taken part of the afternoon off work to be present, and even the feeling that came over me as I left of being grateful to be part of it all.
A horse named Time and Motion winning that day’s feature also seemed fitting – the blur of speed, the rhythm of the race day, and the time and history that encompasses it all through the decades.
Keeneland also tweeted a photo of two men presenting the trophy for the first race ever held there. They were dressed formally and didn’t smile, which was probably common for the era and the occasion.
Yet I still wondered if they, a century ago, were as glad to be there as I was today? Whoever they were, did they realize they were helping usher in the start of a truly grand stage for racing? Some part of me thinks they must have, there at the beginning for a track built out of the passion for the horse and the sport in a region where so many greats are bred and raced. All of this was going on in a country still trying to find its footing after the Great Depression, but that didn’t stop the people who envisioned Keeneland and “racing as it was meant to be,” a tradition that continues to this day.