Herald-Leader Editorial

Without farmland, no Breeders' Cup;

June 26, 2014 

It's only fitting that Keeneland will host, at last, the Breeders' Cup — racing's World Series and Super Bowl wrapped into one.

Over two days in October 2015, the Breeders' Cup will draw more people than ever before — 40,000 to 50,000 each of the two days — to the track, and Central Kentucky.

Those people, many of them well-traveled and well-heeled, will spend money in our restaurants, hotels and retail establishments.

The event also will attract national and international journalists working in all media, providing an opportunity to showcase our community to millions around the world.

Congratulations are due to Keeneland's leaders who worked hard to bring the Breeders' Cup to this home of Thoroughbred breeding, and will work even harder to make it a success. They deserve credit for stepping up to the enormous task of hosting this event.

In this celebratory moment, it's also important to step back and recognize the decades of commitment that farsighted civic leaders have brought to preserving the equine industry, and the unique and incomparable soils and landscape that make it possible.

There are, of course, the founders of Keeneland who created, in the words of the 1935 prospectus, "a model race track, to perpetuate racing in the proper manner and to provide a course which will stand for many years as a symbol of the fine traditions of the sport."

There are the city leaders who drew an Urban Services Boundary in 1958, the first in the nation, limiting urban sprawl and preserving farmland. In the decades since, hundreds of council members, planners and interested citizens have carried on the difficult work to encourage dense urban development and preserve farmland.

Some of the same people advocated for the Purchase of Development Rights program that, since its founding in 1999, has guaranteed the preservation of 244 farms totaling 28,169 acres of farmland in Fayette County.

There are also the people who in 1995 created the Bluegrass Conservancy, a private nonprofit that works throughout the region to preserve rural land. The conservancy's efforts now assured the permanent protection of 20,500 acres of Bluegrass landscape through conservation easements.

There is the late John Gaines, a horse breeder and visionary who conceived of a championship day of racing in the late fall to showcase the best Thoroughbreds in the world.

It also was Gaines who coined the term "horse factories" to highlight the economic impact of the industry. And Gaines was among the founders of the Kentucky Horse Park, which has drawn millions here for equine events, including the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.

All of these dedicated visionaries understood the value, economic and cultural, of the world-class landscape we've inherited. Gratitude can be fully expressed only through commitment to continue their efforts.

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