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His track offer is a wheel deal

A Lexington tire store owner is hoping to capitalize on a truism of Central Kentucky life: People find it hard to resist an afternoon at Keeneland.

Since 1972, Gary Duff has noticed that his customers at Bluegrass Tire Co. on Versailles Road schedule significantly fewer appointments during meets at Keeneland Race Course.

So the Lexington businessman is trying something new for this month's meet by offering to drop people off at Keeneland for an afternoon of Thoroughbred racing while they have new tires put on their vehicles or have brake service or other repairs done.

"I'm just trying to make a negative a positive," said Duff.

Duff said he isn't sure whether he experiences a 30 percent drop in business during Keeneland meets because customers would rather spend the afternoon at the track or because they are trying to avoid increased traffic on Versailles Road, where Keeneland is also located.

But Duff says he'll find out this week whether his idea works. The offer is good Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays until the meet ends on April 24.

Over the years, other Lexington businesses have made promotional offers tied to Keeneland, said Jim Williams, the track's director of communications. Auto dealers have offered admission tickets for customers who test drive a car, and restaurants have offered discounts to those who bring in a parimutuel ticket.

Duff said he is not charging extra for giving his customers transportation to Keeneland, but there is a time limit.

"We close at 5 p.m., so we have to pick them up at 4:30 p.m."