Lexington lies comfortably in the heart of the Kentucky Bluegrass Region and has undisputedly captured the title of “Horse Capital of the World.” The famed horse industry has greatly influenced Lexington's culture and scenic beauty. Add in the University of Kentucky and Transylvania University and you get a college town vibe that adds a diverse culture and energy. Throw in bourbon distilleries and craft brewpubs in the midst of historic neighborhoods and you have one interesting city in the heart of the Bluegrass.
There is no mistaking you are in horse country. Here you will find nearly 75 horse farms surrounding downtown Lexington within Fayette County. Roads are named after champions like Man O’ War and gravesites of famous horses are revered. Farms like Calumet, Donamire, and Claiborne produce champions in the horse racing industry with names that linger on such as Secretariat, Seattle Slew, and Man O’ War.
If you are wondering why there are so many horse farms in this area, the answer lies in the water. That same limestone filtered water that makes Kentucky bourbon so good also is calcium rich and extremely beneficial to building strong bones and durability in the horses that eat the grass and drink the water.
When traveling thru Lexington in an RV the place to stay is the Kentucky Horse Park. Set amongst 1,200 rolling acres here you will find all things horse. The state sponsored Kentucky Horse Park offers plenty to do for a few days. There are horse demonstrations, shows, carriage and horseback rides, two museums, educational programs, and world class horse events and shows. One of the most popular attractions at the Horse Park is the Hall of Champions where visitors get an up-close and personal introduction to famous racehorses. We got to meet Go For Gin (the 1994 Kentucky Derby Winner who finished second in the Preakness and Belmont that same year) and Mr. Muscleman (the richest Standardbred trotter in history having earned over $4 million dollars.
A trip to horse country would not be complete without going to the racetrack. Keenland Race Course is a registered National Historic Landmark known as much for its genteel setting and atmosphere as for its rich horse racing tradition. We decided to get up early for breakfast at the Track Kitchen where large portions are the norm and you eat amongst jockeys, trainers, owners, and tourists like us. Post time might not be until one o’clock but the track comes alive early with horses warming up in the morning routine. You may recognize Keenland if you have ever watched the movies Seabiscuit, Dreamer and Secretariat which were all filmed at Keenland.
One of the most popular things for tourists to do is take a van (or bus tour) of famous horse farms. The three-hour tour took us through the mega farms with recognizable names like Calumet and Claiborne to the smaller low key farms where we could pet foals and hopeful Derby winners.
Now that we are totally enamored with horse country and Betsy (a horse woman who is partial to Arabians - but we won’t tell the thoroughbreds) and I were having a tough time leaving. So we didn’t. More from the bluegrass to come.