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Today is the Day: Happy 80th Birthday, Keeneland

October 15, 2016

LEXINGTON, KY (Oct. 15) – On Oct. 15, 1936, Keeneland opened to great fanfare from the local community and the Thoroughbred industry.

To commemorate Keeneland’s anniversary, Barn Notes throughout the Fall Meet is looking back at memorable races and highlights from the track’s rich history.

Here are a few memorable events that occurred on Oct. 15:

1936: Keeneland opens its inaugural race meet of nine days. The first day features seven races worth a total of $7,380. Royal Raiment wins the first race, a $1,000 allowance race for 2-year-old fillies going six furlongs. Finishing sixth is Wise Dart, trained by Racing Hall of Famer Woody Stephens. … In the fifth race, Racing Hall of Famer Myrtlewood wins the inaugural Keen Handicap, first of four stakes of the season. … Attendance for the entire meet, which closes Oct. 24, is about 8,000 people, who wager $74,639.

1986: To commemorate its 50th anniversary on the same day on which it opened in 1936, Keeneland runs the $50,000 Keeneland Gold Cup, a 1 1/16-mile race on turf for 2-year-olds. The winner is Saron Stable’s Golden Dodger, ridden by Pat Day for trainer J. Bert Sonnier.

2009: Pierre Bellocq, the internationally celebrated artist better known as “Peb,” joins Keeneland and Daily Racing Form to announce the donation of nearly a half-century of his humorous caricatures and equine cartoons to the Keeneland Library.

2011: As part of a yearlong celebration, Keeneland marks its 75th anniversary on the opening date of the track’s first live meet. A special six-furlong stakes for 2-year-olds, the Keeneland 75th Anniversary Stakes, is run. The winner is George Michaels’ Luke of York, ridden by Rajiv Maragh for trainer Jimmy DiVito. That evening, a musical salute from the Boston Pops is held at Rupp Arena in downtown Lexington. The concert features the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra, under the direction of Keith Lockhart, with the University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra. Proceeds from the concert benefit the Lee T. Todd Jr. and Patricia B. Todd Music Outreach Endowment, created as part of a three-year commitment made by Maker’s Mark and Keeneland to raise money for music outreach in schools throughout Kentucky.