Look up a few lines! Right below the article title, you’ll see the date this article was posted. April 6, 2007. Opening Day at River Downs and at Keeneland. Spring is here and you’ll find the race horses back in town. And I’ll be down there at River Downs, looking the horses over in the paddock and making a wager or two.
River Downs is a pretty little race track located right on the Ohio River on the east side of Cincinnati. For me, it a short ten minute ride down the hill. The horses are primarily cheap claimers, meaning minor league runners, but the racing is fun and competitive at that level. The track is a friendly place for both adults and children, and a pleasant place to spend a spring or summer afternoon, and, as far as I’m concerned, they have the best popcorn around Cincinnati. One of my favorite spots to really watch the races is on the rail at the top of the stretch, which is located in the east parking lot. It’s quiet down there, you can hear the thunder of hooves as the horses round the turn. And then they’re in front of you, turning for home. The jockey’s snap their whips, chirp at their horses to go, and yell at each other. Don’t miss it.
Keeneland Race Course is horse racing heaven just 100 miles down the road in Lexington, Kentucky. Located in the heart of “horse country, Keeneland itself was once a horse farm and adjoins the fabled Calumet Farm, once home to Alydar and Derby winner Strike the Gold. Keeneland is only open for about three weeks in April and October, and attract many of the best horses and riders in the world. It’s a beautiful place in spring with the trees blossoming, the grass green, and the days warming. And in the fall, it’s simply golden at Keeneland. I go down at least once every season to soak in the best Kentucky and horse racing have to offer.
Speaking of Opening Day, for Cincinnati, Opening Day is the holiday when the Cincinnati Reds play their first home game. This year, it was last Monday, April 2 and celebrated with a parade from Findlay Market, as well as a Reds victory. Traditionally, Opening Day was the day of the first baseball game of the season, but several years ago baseball broke the tradition, selling out to the demands of television to show the first game on a Sunday night. There was a time that holding Opening Day tickets was an legitimate excuse to miss school or work, and even now, the game sells out within minutes of tickets being released. I’ve been once, and Opening Day is a celebration of the good about Cincinnati.