With spring’s arrival, Kentucky emerges as the equestrian epicenter, as horse lovers from around the world converge on the Bluegrass State for thoroughbred racing and sales, the Rolex Three-Day Event and – yes – partying.
First, it’s live racing at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, April 4-25. More than 1,000 acres of manicured grounds provide a pastoral setting for patrons to watch, wager and sometimes win during the spring meet. Grandstand tickets are available at the gate for racing Wednesdays through Sundays, except Easter.
Viewing daybreak workouts at trackside and eating breakfast at the track kitchen with jockeys, trainers and owners are also popular pleasures. You can also attend Keeneland’s auction of 2-year-olds in training set for April 7. These activities are free.
Then, the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington hosts the 2014 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event April 24-27. This year’s event will bring an especially high level of excitement to the horse park as competitors vie not only for $250,000 in prize money but also for places on the national team to represent the U.S. at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) in France this summer.
About 70 horses and riders competing in dressage, cross-country and show-jumping will attract more than 65,000 spectators eager to see who will compose the eventing team at WEG, held every four years and often referred to as the Olympics of equestrian sports. Tickets to the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event are on sale at www.rk3de.org.
On April 12, the focus will expand to Louisville for the opening of the Kentucky Derby Festival, a rollicking community celebration leading up to the 140th “Run for the Roses”. The kickoff event is Thunder Over Louisville, one of the nation’s largest annual fireworks displays. The three-week-long party also includes the Great Steamboat Race on the Ohio River, April 30, and the colorful Pegasus Parade down Louisville’s Broadway on May 1.
These and many other free Derby Festival events attract some 1.5 million people to celebrate the arrival of spring and the running of the world’s most famous thoroughbred race at Churchill Downs on Saturday, May 3. Seats are still available for the Derby at www.kentuckyderby.com.
So get in the horsey spirit and make your way to Kentucky for this spring’s equestrian extravaganza.
For more information about top events in Kentucky take a look at Top Events USA selection of the annual main festivals and events in Kentucky