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Supplement to “Racing Grace at Keeneland”

While the Keeneland track and horse sales are destinations for tourists and competitors, the Keeneland Library is a mecca for breeders, scientists, scholars—even novelists—investigating every aspect of thoroughbred racing’s history and searching for the keys to its future.

Originally built in the late 1930s as part of the track’s clubhouse, the library was established to archive thoroughbred bloodlines and the accomplishments of their most significant trainers and riders. Today, statistics from Seabiscuit’s racing career are on file there. So are jockey Pat Day’s. And when scientists from the Gluck Equine Center, an equine research center headquartered at the University of Kentucky, rank bloodlines in their quest to keep equine athletes healthier and more productive, they turn to the library’s breeding and genetics register.

Researchers come here from the world over to research bloodlines, the careers of horses, significant trainers, and jockeys. Laura Hillenbrand, author of Seabiscuit, cites the Keeneland Library in the book’s acknowledgements.

“I think the library is really the soul of Keeneland,” says Keeneland CEO Nick Nicholson. “It embodies our mission to support the thoroughbred industry.”

In 2001, the Keeneland Library became home to a priceless historical racing record when it acquired the archives of the Daily Racing Form (DRF)—for centuries the most widely read chronicle of horse racing competitors and results in the world—dating back to the late 1700s.

“Before we acquired them, the DRF archives were stored in a warehouse in Arizona,” Nicholson says. “Some are so fragile, they would not have survived unless we acquired them.”

A new 10,000-square-foot library was opened in 2002. It contains a temperature-controlled wing to accommodate the rare DRF acquisitions. And though visitors to the Keeneland Library can’t actually get their hands on those delicate documents, the library’s staff will fill requests for specific pages and editions by providing photocopies.

With the exception of photocopy costs, access to all of the Keeneland Library’s resources is free and open to the public.

To read the Kentucky Living April 2006 feature that goes along with this supplement, click here: Racing Grace at Keeneland

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