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.
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.
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).
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.
Not 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.
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…