LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) – It was off to the races for Keeneland’s opening day Friday, following a couple of years of only being able to operate at half capacity, Keeneland’s 2022 Spring Meet bounced back.
There was a lot in the mix, from rain and sunshine, to 10 races, about 122 horses and jockeys, and thousands of fans roaring, and even celebrating birthdays, in the grandstands.
Bets were placed, races were on, and some got lucky.
“I won just now. My first race. I did! I did. I’m so excited I’m going to get my money,” Perrin Rountree said, after winning race one, on horse number one named, ‘Mo’s Treasure.’
Rountree was celebrating her birthday at Keeneland. “It’s my 75th birthday. I bet you’re thinking I’m looking pretty swell,” Rountree said.
The birthday luck seemed to bode well for betting luck, as another attendee from Chicago, Adam Stone, also had the same good fortune. “I’m pretty good, it’s my birthday today, so I think I won three in a row,” Stone said.
Two brothers, Brian and Pete Nicoletti, came from Florida for their birthday and cashed winning tickets after race six.
“My wife dresses me and picks my horse by name, and that’s a winning strategy,” Nicoletti said after cashing out on race six.
Besides those who came to purely just observe the races, there were others who were invested in the horses and hoped to walk away as winners Friday.
One horse trainer, Kara Toye, said getting her horses ‘Keeneland-ready’ meant many mornings working in single-digit temperatures, like eight degrees Fahrenheit.
In the past year, Toye said she has 10 horses she’s been training for Keeneland and the racing season ahead.
“I started dreaming about this years ago, but it was just a long hard winter getting here, but we’re now,” Toye said.
A third-generation horse trainer, Toye said this was her first Keeneland Spring Meet, and she’s hoping to have two horses start this weekend.
“It’s definitely a labor of love, a labor of passion,” Toye said. “The horses that I have I started from scratch, from the ground up. I was the first person on their backs, so that’s a little bit rare, but it’s something I’m very proud of.”
One snafu that occurred after race five was an error with the announced order of finished. Some people got paid out who did not technically win, but their tickets were still honored, as well as the correct ones.