Welcome, Breeders' Cup owners, trainers and fans. Welcome national and international media.
And, welcome to the sun, which took a break early in the week but, we hope, will shine through the daylight hours until the last race Saturday.
Many thanks are due to all those working to make this first-ever Breeders' Cup in the city where it was founded safe and successful.
Most importantly, thanks to Keeneland for taking on the enormous job of hosting the world's best Thoroughbreds and their human entourages. It's an honor but also a chore that's demanded over a year and a half of intense planning and preparation.
Thanks are also due to all those who have worked for decades to preserve both the tradition of racing at Keeneland and the beauty of the incomparable Bluegrass that surrounds it.
Although it is hard to imagine Lexington and Central Kentucky without racing and Keeneland, after a downtown track closed in 1933 there was no racing here. A group of horsemen wanted to change that but their ambition wasn't just to open another track. They created a track to showcase Thoroughbreds, that returns earnings not to shareholders but, through purses, to the people who raise and race Thoroughbreds.
Keeneland opened in the fall of 1936 and has been enriching Lexington and the industry for over 75 years.
Visitors who fly into Blue Grass Airport across the road from Keeneland never fail to comment on the beautiful landscape that welcomes them, one that forward-thinking people had the vision to preserve.
Over a half century ago, in 1958, Lexington became the first city in the United States to define where urban services — like water and sewer — would be provided, with the intention of concentrating intense residential and commercial development in one area, preserving farmland around the urban core. It's thanks to this Urban Services Boundary that Keeneland is bordered by farms and not strip development.
Finally, it's important to thank the man whose vision created the Breeders' Cup. John Gaines, who died in 2005, had many great ideas that he saw through to reality. In 1982 he said racing needed a fall championship, a face-off with rich purses, for racing's stars. Two years later, the first Breeders' Cup was run.
Now, three decades later, this great championship is coming at last to Lexington, where so many people past and present have put their vision, resources and best efforts toward preserving racing and breeding as they were meant to be in one of the world's greatest landscapes.
Welcome, and thanks.