Bluegrass and Fine Horses – Lexington, KY

Although Steve and I are neither horse-racing fans nor bourbon drinkers, a visit to Kentucky isn’t complete without checking out those two items that the state is famous for.  The area with a concentration of over 400 thoroughbred farms  is known as the Bluegrass Region – aka the Horse Capital of the World – and Lexington sits right in the middle of it.  Here’s a little trivia tidbit for you: Lexington was named after the fastest stallion horse of its time, 1850-1875.
Lexington, KY

Thoroughbreds

Steve had to do some research to figure out why the horses wear masks – it’s to keep flies out of their eyes, and they can see through them just fine

Setting aside a day to visit Lexington, we took the self-guided Bluegrass Country Driving Tour.  Most of these pictures are “drive-by shootings” from the car, as the road was narrow with few safe places to pull over for good shots.  I did my best to show the countryside surrounding Lexington, where the gorgeous horse farms give the region a beautiful park-like setting.

Bluegrass Driving Tour

Thoroughbreds

Maybe you’ve heard of the happy cows in California?  These are some happy horses!

Looking at the pictures, it’s obvious that the grass isn’t really blue.  It’s a variety of “bluegrass” on which a small blue flower blooms in early spring.  A field of flowering bluegrass appears to be bluish-green in early spring before it has been cut (or eaten by a horse).

Calumet Farms

Manchester Farms

Manchester Farms – a 246-acre horse farm

The sun was hiding on this day, but while driving along the winding country road we feasted our eyes on green rolling hills, acres of beautiful horse farms, horse barns and distinctive fences.  These are not your typical horse farms; they are estates of the wealthy where breeding of the best of the best thoroughbreds happens.

Van Meter Road, Bluegrass Tour

White fence vs black fence

Rock Fences

Miles of rock fences laid without mortar were built in the mid-1800’s

Manchester Farms

Blue and white barn with cupolas – these horses have it pretty good!

Winstar Farms, Bluegrass Region, KY

Winstar Farms

Turkey Vulture

An ugly turkey vulture surveys his domain

Thoroughbreds

Thoroughbreds can be seen grazing on those wide open green spaces

Keeneland ClockNot to be missed is a visit to one of the world’s most beautiful racetracks, the Keeneland Race Course.  Keeneland is a 922-acre pastoral setting that makes its atmosphere unique in the horse racing industry.  But Keeneland is not only a place for thoroughbred racing, it’s also the world’s premier thoroughbred auction house.  Racing happens only in April and October, so it was quiet when we got there and we thought it was cool that people can walk all around the place even during non-racing months.  On this morning we pretty much had the place to ourselves.

Keeneland Race Track

This “horse” seems to be confused about which way to go…

 

Keeneland Race Track

Keeneland Race Track

Keeneland Race Course

Keeneland Race Track

Apparently a “walk of fame” for horses and their owners

Jockeys Quarters

Notice how this skilled photographer stood right in the middle of the doorframe so his reflection wouldn’t show in the image – just kidding, it’s Steve!

Bluegrass Driving Tour

Future champions?

Although the visit did not transform us into horse-racing fans, being there and experiencing the beautiful countryside where the thoroughbreds are bred, raced, auctioned and retired was worth the drive on an overcast day.  But the horses and bluegrass are only part of the story that makes Kentucky a unique state.  Then there’s the bourbon…

 

Next up:  Lets taste some Kentucky bourbon!