Sunday was a rainy race day at Keeneland but since the track isn’t made of dirt anymore, it helps keeps horses safe, racing going strong and fans placing bets.
“Hit and miss all day long so, hey, we ride it out,” said Elvin Smith about Sunday’s weather.
“Lots more umbrellas than bow ties and a lot more jeans than khakis,” said Ashley Mailloux. “I think the spirits have still been really high despite the rain. I mean everyone is still cheering for their horse at the end of the day and I think that makes for a fun experience.”
Keeneland races rain or shine. A few seats were empty in the stands but fans were still out watching the races in the rain.
“It's calmer, definitely because it's so rainy but it's nice to have it be chilled out. Everybody is still very enthusiast about their races and winning,” said Tori Lelbach who won $45 at her first rainy Keeneland race.
Keeneland makes sure horses stay safe while racing. The polytrack is an all-weather track.
“It handles the water very well. It drains really easily, and so you don't have the muddy conditions you might have with a traditional dirt track. So it remains very safe even though we have a lot of rain,” said Amy Gregory, director of communications at Keeneland.
Without a muddy track, many horses don’t scratch which makes for more entertaining races and betting.
“The handicappers love to see big fields of top quality horses and that really gives them a lot of wagering options,” said Gregory. “You've got more horses to cheer on, the racing is a little more competitive, there's a little more strategy among the jockeys in the field so it’s just a more exciting race product.”
Gregory says despite the rain, Keeneland had a great Signature Fall Stars Weekend kick off.
“We've had great crowds we've had tremendous racing, lots of horses prepping for the breeders cup next month at Santa Anita have been racing here this weekend so it's been a big success,” said Gregory.
“I actually like it when it rains a lot the crowds a little, it's less busy, and I find myself surrounded by people who are dedicated fans and I think it makes for a great racing atmosphere,” said Mailloux