Keeneland President: Long Term Success Dependent on Attracting New Racing Fans

Apr 30, 2015

Keeneland President Bill Thomason addressing Lexington Rotarians
Credit Stu Johnson / WEKU News

The president of Keeneland says the long term success of the historic track hinges on being able to attract youth to the sport. 

Bill Thomason offered his annual pre-derby speech to Lexington Rotarians Thursday.  "If you attach them to the horse, then you create life-long fans," said Thomason. "That's why even if they're picnicking on the grounds, which we love to see, we do things to make sure that they have the opportunity to get up next to the racetrack to see the horses and experience it." 

Thomason says offering races on big screens for tailgaters is just one strategy to garner attention.  "So all of these things that we're doing are not proprietary to us," Thomason said.  "We share them with other racetracks.  We get ideas from other racetracks." 

Thomason also talked about Keeneland's $590 million economic impact on the central Kentucky community. He said he picks Carpe  Diem, winner of Keeneland's Bluegrass Stakes, to win the Kentucky Derby.​