Even if you can't afford to buy a Thoroughbred at Keeneland, you can watch the parade of horseflesh through the auction ring and the bidding.
Not so for the candidates for Kentucky governor, who paraded privately for coal industry executives recently at a resort in Bristol, Va., as the Herald-Leader's Sam Youngman reported.
Neither Republican Matt Bevin, who routinely releases his campaign schedule, nor Democrat Jack Conway, who does not, notified the media of their audience with the industry heavyweights.
Bill Bissett, president of the Kentucky Coal Association, confirmed that he moderated the event between Bevin and Conway in front of 100 to 120 representatives of coal and other energy interests.
Republican Jeb Bush, a likely presidential candidate, also appeared before the gathering.
It would be interesting to know if the discussion behind closed doors was more realistic than the "coal now, coal forever" rhetoric we've been forced to expect from Kentucky politicians, including Bevin and Conway.
Bloomberg Business reports that record shale production in the eastern U.S. is making natural gas cheaper than coal, producing a glut of mined coal. Nationwide, coal accounted for 36 percent of electricity generation through March, down from 42 percent a year earlier. Gas' share rose to 29 percent from 24 percent, according to the Energy Information Administration.
In Eastern Kentucky and West Virginia, resource depletion has pushed up the cost of coal production, making it even less profitable to mine and leading to more layoffs.
With the industry on the ropes in Central Appalachia and under pressure everywhere, the coal execs will be looking for even more favors than usual from state government.
No word yet on which candidate for governor won the bidding, but if history is any guide, the coal industry will end up owning them both.