Lexington Breeders’ Cup Festival 2015 Preview

Lexington Breeders’ Cup Festival 2015 Preview

Previewing the Breeders’ Cup 2015

“A bit like Cuba’s, Kentucky’s economy depends almost entirely on things that are good for you but are said to be bad for you: Cuba has sugar, rum and tobacco; and Kentucky has bourbon, tobacco, and horse racing. When you see the Derby run on TV, the cameras linger on opulence in hats and horseflesh, and the farms often look like rolling feudal estates, but if you go to Keeneland racetrack at Lexington you see…real, popular participation in the sport of kings.”

—Christopher Hitchens, Vanity Fair

BreedersCupThe Kentucky Derby is the “most exciting two minutes in sports,” but the Breeders’ Cup is “the richest two days in sports,” with “$26 million in purses paid out over the entire weekend.”

The Breeders’ Cup World Championships are in Lexington for this first time this October at our historic race course, Keeneland. Breeders’ Cup attendance ranks fourth or fifth in North America annually and usually surpasses the attendance of all other stakes races (except for the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, and the Oaks).

And the Breeders’ Cup isn’t just a race, much like when the World Equestrian Games came to town, there will be a diverse range of Festival activities in the week leading up to the race.

The Breeders’ Cup Festival is inspired by the races, and will show off the very best Lexington has to offer — music, art, and film showcases; horse farm tours; and other special events, will fill up the entire week, beginning on Saturday, October 24.

Saturday, October 24

The first ever Feeders’ Cup at Legends Ballpark from 3 – 10 pm. The festival invites food trucks from the commonwealth and the tri-state area to compete for the glory of earning the grand prize. Winning trucks will be selected by a panel of judges and then voted on by the public. Categories include Southern classic, world fusion, and farm to table. The five winning trucks will serve and sell their full menu during the Winners’ Stretch at Cheapside Pavilion during the entire week of the Breeders’ Cup Festival.

Frank X. Walker’s play “I Dedicate This Ride” at Lyric Theatrewill be at the Lyric Theatre at 7 pm. Walker’s production brings to life the mind and heart of thoroughbred racing legend Isaac Burns Murphy (1861 – 1896). Born into slavery, Murphy rose to prominence to enjoy wealth, honor, and international fame.  There will also be shows on October 23 at 7 pm and October 25 at 3 pm.

Thoroughbred Makeover at Kentucky Horse Park through October 25. The featured event of the Retired Racehorse Project will showcase 350 recently retired racehorses who have been retrained in one of ten disciplines competing for $100,000 in cash and prizes.


Sunday, October 25

Kentucky For Kentucky 25-Furlong (5K) Fun Run at Kentucky Horse Park will start at 2 pm. Dress like your favorite Kentuckian for a $1,000 prize or just come and run/walk the 25-furlong (3.1 mile) course. Enjoy the tree-lined trail leading through the heart of the park with friends and family.

Frank X. Walker’s “I Dedicate This Ride” at Lyric Theatre

Thoroughbred Makeover at Kentucky Horse Park

Thriller Parade on Main Street

Music: Here Come The Mummies at Courthouse Plaza


Sunrise Trackside at Keeneland


Monday, October 26

The John Gaines Plaque Dedication at Thoroughbred Park at 10:30 am will recognize Gaines, founder of the Breeders’ Cup, for his positive impact on the Thoroughbred industry with a bronze plaque in the park’s hall of fame.  

The Bourbon Lounge at Keeneland hosts a Breeders’ Cup Draw Party at 5 pm. Open to the public, this event gives guests the opportunity to mix and mingle with the owners, trainers, and riders for the upcoming World Championships as the drama for post positions begins to build.

Music: Ben Lacy and TD Young at Courthouse Plaza

Sunrise Trackside at Keeneland

Tuesday, October 27

The Cigar Statue Dedication at the Kentucky Horse Park at 2:30 pm will celebrate one of racing’s all-time great horses. A statue will be unveiled in honor of Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Cigar.

Music: The Suffers at Courthouse Plaza

Sunrise Trackside at Keeneland


Wednesday, October 28

The Kentucky Bourbon Trail presents Bourbon Backstrech – Master Distillers Night at The Livery at 6 pm. Join the members and Master Distillers of the world-renowned Kentucky Bourbon Trail tour and sample some of the best Bourbon that the Bluegrass has to offer.

Oliver Lewis Way Bridge Lighting & Fireworks begin at 7:30 pm (Newtown Pike, extended at Main St.) Paying tribute to the great rider, join local officials and members of the Breeders’ Cup jockey colony as the public art display goes live for the first night on the Oliver Lewis Bridge. A firework show and celebration continues after in Lexington’s Distillery District.

The Kentucky Theatre hosts a showing of Dreamer at 7:15 pm as part of a series of equestrian-themed movies in honor of the Festival.

The Livery hosts a smaller version of the signature spring event, Kentucky Crafted: The Market. The Kentucky Arts Council presents this curated shopping experience at the Livery through October 31, featuring art and craft by Kentucky artists.

Music: Town Mountain at Courthouse Plaza

Sunrise Trackside at Keeneland


Thursday, October 29

Prelude to the Breeders’ Cup: At 11 am there will be live Thoroughbred racing at Keeneland, a special preview on the day before the World Championships.

Secreteriat at The Kentucky Theatre

Music: Stooges Brass Band at Courthouse Plaza

Kentucky Crafted: The Market at The Livery

Friday, October 30

The main event:  Breeders’ Cup World Championships kick off at Keeneland each day at 9 am.

The Breeders’ Cup Bash at Red Mile lets you watch, wager, and celebrate the Breeders’ Cup onscreen at the newly renovated Red Mile. A full offering of food, music, drink, and wagers will be presented from the first races to the last.

bourbonBackstretchBourbon Backstretch Tasting Night at The Livery

Kentucky Crafted: The Market at The Livery

Saturday, October 31

Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Keeneland

Breeders’ Cup Bash at Red Mile

Bourbon Backstretch Tasting Night at The Livery

Music: The Wags at Courthouse Plaza

Kentucky Crafted: The Market at The Livery

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This article also appears on pages 4 and 5 of the October 2015 printed issue of Ace Weekly.