LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Springtime at Keeneland just wasn’t the same this year. The COVID-19 pandemic led to the spring meet’s cancellation and the grounds have been closed to the public. While racing may have been on pause, behind the scenes, workers are still taking care of the grounds and horses.
“Those horses need to be cared for,” said Keeneland Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Christa Marrillia. “They’re continuing to train them and day in and day out, these men and women are working hard to make sure that those horses are safe and healthy.”
Now, Keeneland partnered with Blue Grass Farms Charities to give back with a new initiative, Nourish the Backstretch. Starting Wednesday, weekly meals and groceries will be given out to hundreds of workers at Keeneland and The Thoroughbred Center over the next couple of months.
Nourish the Backstretch is an extension of Nourish Lexington, which was started back in April and provides meals to anyone in the city affected by the pandemic.
Keeneland just wanted to put more of a focus on its own.
“Without these people caring for our horses, there would be no industry, so they really are our front lines and we’re so appreciative and grateful for their efforts,” said Marrillia.
Racing will continue in the near future and while there may not be spectators, betting isn’t off limits. In fact, it will even help workers.
“For the month of May, our proceeds from Keeneland Select are going to benefit Nourish the Backstretch,” said Marrillia. “Keeneland Select, which is our online wagering platform, allows you to wager from home.”
It’s a way to support those who keep the industry, and the horses, running for fans.