Let Patrick VanSant give the verdict on traffic at Keeneland's opening day: "Not bad at all," said the 22-year-old Georgetown College student.
And that was the consensus of people chosen at random Friday, first day of the spring meet. Keeneland officials had expressed concern that the reconstruction on U.S. 60 — with its reduced lanes and lesser capacity — might cause headaches.
But "for an opening day, it was relatively smooth," said Vince Gabbert, Keeneland vice president and chief operating officer.
"There were no really big problems" in getting vehicles onto the track grounds, said Lexington Police Sgt. Daniel Fleischer.
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Motorists seemed amenable to using alternate routes to the track, such as Old Frankfort Pike to Rice Road, Fleischer said. He was among the officers at a command center that orchestrated traffic via radio from the Keeneland Sales Pavilion.
At 12:40 p.m. — 25 minutes to post time for the first race — it took only 11 minutes to travel from New Circle Road west to Gate 1 across from Man O' War Boulevard, and another five minutes to reach a free parking space.
Randel Jennings of Greenville in Western Kentucky was among those in the throng who were nonplussed by the traffic.
"For an event like this, it's not that bad," Jennings said.
Erin Strouse and her 15-year-old son, Stephen, drove from near Toledo, Ohio.
"It wasn't too bad," she said. "We've been to the Indianapolis 500 and it (Keeneland traffic) wasn't as bad as that."
Had police needed to stop traffic at any point, they could have just planted VanSant, the Georgetown College student, in the middle of the road. His aqua sport jacket, lavender slacks and shoes that were half neon yellow and half neon orange combined to make a real show stopper.
VanSant said the ensemble was his lucky gambling wear that had helped him at a casino.
As for traffic, Saturday "will be the real test," Fleischer said. "It's going to be a big day with everybody being off work."
So again, let's say it all together now: Arrive early. Stay later. Drive carefully.