LEXINGTON, KY (WTVQ)- After having to cancel their spring meet in April, the summer meet is underway at Keeneland. It’s something the track has never done in 85 years
Keeneland Vice President Bob Elliston said there had been a lot of anxiousness coming into this week’s races.
“You always worry if we were going to have a Mary Tyler Moore party,” said Elliston. “Would they show up? They’re showing up in tremendous numbers. Our field size is great, so it feels a lot like the morning before a regular opening day in April.”
The horses and jockeys running may have given that feel for April, but the empty seats are a heavy reminder that it’s still not the same experience at the track.
Keeneland expects to see fans return, but a lot depends on how well their safety procedures work.
“We really are trying to build confidence about our protocols. This is kind of the trial run for bigger things to come down the road.”
No fans means little revenue because tracks depend so much on admissions and concessions.
Elliston expects the track will lose money on this meet, but the little amount it can generate now will be huge for the coming months. However, he says the financial benefit the races provide for horses, owners, trainers and jockeys outweighs any revenue they’d receive from the five-day-meet.
“If we can break even on that. That’ll be a big win for us. We’ll get through this crisis, get through this pandemic and live to fight another day,” said Elliston.
Despite rain during the day one of the meet, there was still plenty of excitement at the track. The first race of the day featured a photo finish.
Racing will continue until Sunday at Keeneland. The biggest races will come Saturday with the Ashland Stakes and the Toyota Bluegrass.