The Keeneland Library collection features a wide array of information, ranging from video race replays, race charts dating back to the 1860's, racing photographs, newspaper clippings, periodicals and nearly every significant book written about the Thoroughbred and Thoroughbred racing and breeding. The Library’s book collections span a broad range of topics including sales and racing, veterinary care, farriery, equine art, biography—both human and equine, the history of the horse in culture, the history of horseracing, the history of specific racing events or specific race courses, memoirs, equine law and economics, theories about handicapping and breeding, and even fiction, photography and poetry.
Among the most popular materials are the complete collections of the Thoroughbred Record and Thoroughbred Times. Beginning in 1875, the Record and Times provide a comprehensive weekly report on international racing and breeding. The Library’s nearly complete file of The Blood Horse and the Spirit of the Times, also provide weekly glimpses into many aspects of the Thoroughbred industry. Approximately 100 other journals related the equine industry fill the journal stacks. In addition, the Library holds a large, international collection of stallion registries, racing calendars, manuals and studbooks, some dating to the early 18th century.
In addition to the initial gift of 2300 volumes, Arnold Hanger brokered many other gifts for the Library, including the outstanding photographic negative collections of photographers Charles Christian Cook and Bert T. Morgan. In 1954, the Library acquired the collection of Charles Christian Cook, one of the first photographers in the U.S. to specialize in racing and racetrack scenes. The more than 18,000 glass plate negatives focus on the early 1900s to mid-century. Soon to follow was the Bert T. Morgan collection comprising over 200,000 film negatives of racing action shots, finish lines and winner’s circles covering the 1930s through the early 1960s. Morgan pioneered the “below the rail” style of finish line shots.
DAILY RACING FORM COLLECTION
In 2000, the Daily Racing Form donated its priceless archive of over 3,4000 volumes to Keeneland, including three editions of the Daily Racing Form, dating back to 1896, the DRF Monthly Charts and many editions of the American Racing Manual. Keeneland has undertaken the Daily Racing Form Preservation Project to create digital copies of the most fragile issues of the Form and to make them available to the public through an online database. With a subsequent gift in 2010, the DRF collection now numbers well over 5,000 volumes.
In collaboration with the University of Kentucky Libraries and the Kentucky Virtual Library, the Keeneland Library completed a pilot program during 2007-2010 in which various archiving techniques were tested. Currently, 246,000 Daily Racing Form pages are available on the Kentuckiana Digital Library (http://athena.uky.edu/), including coverage of nearly every Triple Crown race and the inaugural Breeders’ Cup. Enjoy this SHORT VIDEO about the DRF collection preservation process.
In the fall of 2009, Pierre Bellocq, the internationally celebrated artist better known as “Peb,” joined Daily Racing Form officials to announce the donation of nearly a half-century of his humorous caricatures and equine cartoons to the Library. The Peb collection includes approximately 4,000 original works of art. In January 2011, the National Endowment for the Humanities awarded the Library a Preservation Assistance Grant to assist with the preservation of the Morgan and Peb collections.
ART AND ARTIFACTS
A museum area near the entrance exhibits valuable racing artifacts and various collectibles, such as two antique jockey scales, a 19th century silk purse from the Kentucky Association track, trophies and horseshoes worn by Whirlaway, Man o’ War and Citation, among others. In addition, a portion of Keeneland’s equine art collection is on display in the Library, including the paintings “American Eclipse” by Edward Troye and “Hanover” by Henry Stull. Bronze sculptures by Isidore Bonheur and Jules Mene and several 20th century sculptors are also featured.