Race Course and farm share rich history and iconic Bluegrass landscape
Keeneland today announced the purchase of historic Manchester Farm, whose rolling hills and iconic barn with distinctive blue-and-white cupolas has provided a stunning backdrop for countless photographs. Located on the northern boundary of Keeneland Race Course, Manchester Farm is one of the most recognizable farms in Kentucky.
Originally named Manchester Springs Plantation after a creek that runs through the property, the farm has a rich history that dates back to the 1700s. In 1804, Francis Keen (first generation of the Keene family) passed 200 acres of Manchester Springs Plantation to his son. The land remained in the Keen/Keene family for five generations until 1935, when J.O. “Jack” Keene sold 147.6 acres to Keeneland Association for the creation of a model race track.
“The history of Manchester Farm and Keeneland are intertwined,” Keeneland President and CEO Shannon Arvin said. “We were thrilled to have the opportunity to purchase the farm and plan to celebrate this Central Kentucky treasure for generations.”
Keeneland purchased the nearly 200-acre farm from Calumet Farm, owned by Brad Kelley. He purchased Manchester Farm in 2016 from noted breeder and owner Mike G. Rutherford, who bought the farm in 1976 from Duval Headley (nephew of Hal Price Headley, a Keeneland founder and the track’s first President).
“Over the course of Keeneland’s 86-year history, we have acquired adjacent properties to preserve the track’s picturesque setting and to further our mission to perpetuate the best of Thoroughbred racing and sales,” Arvin said. “While we do not have immediate plans for the future of the property, Lexington and the Thoroughbred community can trust that Keeneland will use the land to strengthen our industry, enhance the Central Kentucky region and always do what is best for the horse.”
Since its first race meet more than 85 years ago, the Keeneland Association has devoted itself to the health and vibrancy of the Thoroughbred industry. The world’s largest Thoroughbred auction house, Keeneland conducts four sales a year, in January, April, September and November. Graduates of Keeneland sales dominate racing across the globe at every level. In April and October, Keeneland offers some of the highest caliber and richest Thoroughbred racing in the world. Keeneland hosted the Breeders’ Cup World Championships in 2015 and 2020, and this year on Nov. 4-5. Uniquely structured, Keeneland is a privately held company with a not-for-profit mission that returns its earnings to the industry and the community in the form of higher purses and millions of dollars donated in support of horse industry initiatives and charitable contributions for education, research, and health and human services throughout Central Kentucky. Keeneland also maintains the Keeneland Library, a world-renowned public research institution with the mission of preserving information about the Thoroughbred industry. To learn more, visit Keeneland.com.
For more information contact:
Amy Gregory at 859 361-3490
Amy Owens at 859 421-2566