Family Fun Day at Keeneland

Posted on April 15, 2011 

Family Fun Day at Keeneland, Or Another Example of How My Life is Not Like the Lives of the TV Housewives

Last Saturday my husband and I decided to cap-off  Spring Break week for the kids by taking them to Keeneland.  We thought this was an excellent idea for a family tradition that we call “Family Fun Day.” Keeneland is beautiful, it’s a Kentucky tradition, we had just recently seen the movie Secretariat, we’d see some horses, we’d give a lesson in responsible gambling, and Mom and Dad might have a little fun too. Ignoring the amazingly accurate weather reports about severe storms, we loaded up and headed towards Fayette County.

We arrived just as the admission gates were opening and were pleasantly surprised to find out that kids under 12 are admitted free. Little did we know, that was where our luck would end. We perused the gift shop for possible souvenir selections to purchase on the way out.  Gray skies were rolling in as we posed for pictures by the paddock, under the Rolex clock, by the jockey statues, on the rails of the race track, on the balcony . . .  etc.  I always feel the need to document Family Fun Days with a high volume of pictures as future proof to my children that they did indeed have a good childhood.

We grabbed some snacks and my husband began going over the racing program with the kids and helping them pick their horses. Since my husband and kids already picked all the Kentucky-bred horses, I went against my usual practice and selected a horse named Sweet William. In addition to picking horses from Kentucky I also pick them based on the name.  And with the royal wedding coming-up, what could be more appropriate?

By now it is storming, not a little rain, but a good, old-fashioned, Spring-time, thunderstorm.

We had already wondered how long the kids would enjoy being at Keeneland, we figured we could stay for at least 3 races before they were bored and tired of the crowds. However, I was now wondering if post-time would be postponed due to the weather. Surely they weren’t going to let these magnificent and expensive creatures  race in these conditions? We had planned to take the kids to see the horses up-close before the race, but it seemed like a bad parenting decision to send my own magnificent and expensive creatures out into the lightning.

Instead, we made our way as close to the racetrack as possible with everyone else crowded under the roof.  As usual, my husband ran into several people he knew and was happy catching-up with friends from high school and colleagues, while I fended-off the kids’ demands for ice cream.  Finally we saw the horses being  led to the starting gates. We tried to build-up the kids’ excitement, pointing out their horses and jockeys on the jumbo-tron screen and telling them they can keep the winnings if their horse wins. And they’re off . . . and Sweet William hits the rails and knocks-off the jockey . . . and none of the rest of the family picks won, placed, or showed.

Now we are all wet and grumpy and crowded. Trying to salvage Family Fun Day, we buy ice cream and souvenirs and head back to the car to go shopping. 

Now, if my life was more like a TV Housewife, a trip to the races would have gone much differently. The weather would have been perfect, I would have been dressed like it was Derby Day, and I would have been in a private clubhouse suite. Instead of ice cream, the TV Housewives would have been buying large quantities of adult beverages and they would not have brought their children, or if they had, the teenagers would also be consuming large quantities of adult beverages.  And instead of my husband chatting-up former high school football teammates,  he would have surprised me with a 10-carat ring or a diamond watch for no apparent reason except  to show-off  in front of the t.v. cameras.

Alas, as I may have mentioned  before, my life is nothing like the lives of the TV housewives. However, the kids still seemed to have a good time. We joked and laughed about Mommy’s horse, “Not So” Sweet William, racing to the finish line with no rider. (I tried to find out if the jockey was injured and didn’t see any reports on it, so assume he is okay.)  We laughed when the weather turned absolutely beautiful on our way back to Madison County.  It may not have been the Family Fun Day at Keeneland we envisioned, but it was memorable . . . and I have the pre-thunderstorm pictures to prove it.

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