From Keeneland to downtown Lexington, how to navigate Breeders' Cup traffic, parking

When it comes to traffic and parking, Breeders' Cup guests should not expect a typical Keeneland experience as they head to the races this week.

With the tens of thousands of people expected to crowd Keeneland came a demand for a detailed traffic and parking plan.

The planning began to take shape more than 18 months ago, when Keeneland was just being considered to host the event, said Robert N. Elliston, Breeders' Cup executive vice president and chief operating officer.

"It's a significant departure from the normal way folks get to Keeneland," Elliston said.

Most people attending the races Friday and Saturday will park not at Keeneland but at one of three off-site areas, Elliston said. Race-goers who have prepaid off-site parking and shuttle passes will be able to park at Whitaker Bank Ballpark, the Kentucky Horse Park or Rupp Arena.

Those who plan to buy a parking pass the day of the event on either day will need to park at the Kentucky Horse Park. Everyone at an off-site parking area will take a shuttle to the racetrack. The shuttles are scheduled to depart every 15 minutes.

A free race-day program will be handed out as passengers board shuttles so they can begin to plan their bets, Elliston said.

Shuttles will run from 9:30 a.m. until about 7 p.m., he said, but the last shuttle won't leave Keeneland until the last off-site person in need of a ride is ready to go.

Prepaid parking and shuttle passes are $20 a day, $25 if bought on race days, according to the Breeders' Cup website. The grounds at Keeneland couldn't accommodate all of the vehicles driven by race-goers, so only people who buy premium parking passes in advance will be able to park at the track, Elliston said.

"This entire event is not about quantity; it's about quality," he said. "We want everyone to have a first-class experience."

Gate 1 at Keeneland will be closed to all vehicles except Breeders' Cup shuttles, taxis, and Uber and Lyft vehicles.

Taxis from Bluegrass Cab, Cornett's Airport Shuttle, Triple Crown Limousine and Yellow Cab will be able to bring passengers into Keene land to a designated drop-off point, Elliston said.

Uber and Lyft vehicles also will be able to bring people all the way into Keeneland and to a designated drop-off point, Elliston said. Uber and Lyft have partnered with Breeders' Cup to offer "significant" discounts through promotional codes that can be found on the Breeders' Cup website, Elliston said.

At the end of each day, there will be an inventory of taxis, Uber and Lyft vehicles for departing guests, Elliston said.

All people with prepaid premium parking passes will enter through Gate 2 near the clubhouse, Elliston said.

Increased police presence

Parking won't be the only thing that makes the Breeders' Cup stand apart from the average Keeneland weekend. Police presence will be stepped up for the large influx of race-goers.

And the effect of Breeders' Cup festivities extend beyond Keeneland, with traffic changes reaching downtown. Among them:

■ The right lane of Short Street between Cheapside and North Limestone is closed all week, according to a traffic management news release on the city's website.

■ Right-turn lanes on North Limestone from Main Street to Barr Street also are closed all week.

■ From 6 p.m. to midnight all week, Short Street will be closed between Cheapside and North Martin Luther King Boulevard as a part of the Breeders' Cup Festival.

■ Barr Street will be closed between Limestone and North Martin Luther King Boulevard from 6 p.m. to midnight all week, according to traffic management.

Officers will put in overtime Friday and Saturday during Breeders' Cup festivities, police Sgt. Ann Welch said.

The officers will see longer race days than what is typical for Keeneland, starting earlier and staying later.

Officers will work internal security for the races and will coordinate traffic and parking, Welch said.

Tailgating 'hub'

People will be able to park at The Hill at Keeneland for tailgating Friday and Saturday, Elliston said.

"That's going to be a hub of the existing tailgating tradition," he said. "But it's going to take it to the next level."

A parking pass for the tailgate must be purchased in advance for every vehicle, but there is no extra cost for vehicle occupants.

A pass for The Hill is $35 for Friday and $50 for Saturday, according to the Breeders' Cup website. Drivers must turn onto Van Meter Road to get to the tailgating area, Elliston said.

No outside alcohol will be permitted at the tailgate, he said. There will be craft beer, food trucks and bands at the event, Elliston said.

"I think that it is going to be a dynamite, fun experience," he said.

Similar plans Thursday

The Prelude to the Cup, which takes place Thursday, will have a parking and transportation plan similar to the Friday and Saturday race days.

Only guests with prepaid premium passes will be permitted to park at Keeneland for the Prelude to the Cup, according to the event website. All others will need to park at the Kentucky Horse Park or Rupp Arena.

Day-of parking passes will be available only at the Horse Park, and walk-up shuttle passes will be available at Rupp Arena for $5, according to the website.

Prepaid passes for both off-site locations Thursday will be $15, according to the website. Day-of parking passes at the Horse Park will be $20.