Racing returns to Keeneland

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

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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.

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“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.

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Austin Miller joins ABC 36 Sports Team as a Sports Reporter and Weekend Anchor. Austin is from the Louisville area and graduated from St. Xavier High School in 2008. Austin graduated from Indiana University with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and a second concentration in German. While at IU, Austin was a blogger at Kentsterling.com and co-host, producer and engineer for WIUX, the school’s student radio station. Before coming to ABC 36, Austin was a news videographer at WLFI in West Lafayette from 2012-2015. While working with WLFI, Austin had the chance to cover the Purdue Boilermakers. He then accepted a Sports/New Reporter position at Local 4 KSNB-TV in Hastings Nebraska and was eventually promoted to sports full-time as the Weekend Sports Anchor/Reporter. While at KSNB-TV, Austin covered the University of Nebraska, the University of Nebraska-Kearney and Hastings College. After spending nearly six years away from home, Austin is excited to return to the Bluegrass State to cover the teams he grew up watching. In his spare time, Austin enjoys playing basketball, working out and cooking. If you have any story ideas or would like to say “Hello,” you can reach Austin by email at amiller@wtvq.com or direct message him on Twitter @AustinMillerTV.