Kentucky’s close association with horses and horse racing has a long legacy. Many early pioneer settlers, especially those from Virginia and Maryland, brought their love of horse breeding and racing with them when they came west. However, it took both time and favorable circumstances for Kentucky to truly become the premiere region for the horse industry.
Several important factors contributed to the rise of the Bluegrass Region’s prominence for equine raising and racing. First, the climate of Kentucky is almost perfect for raising and training stock. Horses tend to thrive in areas that have moderate climates. In addition, the change of seasons seems to promote healthier animals. Secondly, the geographic makeup of Kentucky—in particular the Inner-Bluegrass Region of the state—has historically produced the best horses the track has ever known. Rolling hills of well-drained terrain have provided a solid foundation for generations upon generations of sired champions. Similarly, below the turf is a rich limestone stratum that makes for especially nutritious grasses and fresh water. This limestone base is believed to manifest itself in strong bones, durable ligaments, and thriving cardiovascular systems in Kentucky’s horses.
On this tour you will be introduced to some of Kentucky’s most famous horses; thoroughbreds, saddlebreds, trotters, and pacers. Also highlighted are some of the state’s premiere venues for racing including Churchill Downs, Keeneland, and Latonia. Here, too, are the farms and the men that bred, raised, trained, rode, and promoted the animals that sometimes even reached the status of pop-culture stars. We hope this tour provides you with a better understanding of Kentucky’s fascination with horses and how the horse industry has influenced the commonwealth’s rich history.