Breeders’ Cup Festival: Downtown Lexington, Ky events list

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The Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championships are back at Keeneland and even if you don’t have tickets to the races you can still enjoy the festivities.

If you’re still hoping to go to the actual races, go to to buy tickets. Friday tickets might be available but Saturday and two-day tickets are already sold out.

The week before the championships on Nov. 4-5, there will be myriad activities and events throughout Lexington including a family-friendly celebration, live music, equine films and an epic bourbon tasting event.

For complete information and list of events, go to

American Pharoah is led to the track before the Breeders’ Cup Classic, the final race of his career, at Keeneland on Oct. 31, 2015, the first time the Lexington racetrack hosted the World Thoroughbred Championships. The Breeders’ Cup was also at Keeneland in 2020. Jonathan Palmer and David Coyle
Howard Florence rides his bicycle along the Town Branch Commons trail near Midland Avenue in Lexington, Ky., following a ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022, for the completion of the more than two-mile trail through downtown. Ryan C. Hermens

The activities begin Oct. 30 with the Isaac Murphy Art Garden Party and Family Stroll. It’s a walk along the new Town Branch Commons trail from the Isaac Murphy Art Garden to Oliver Lewis Way, beginning at 2 p.m. There will be food trucks, kids’ activities, live music and the first 300 walkers get a free commemorative T-shirt. A history exhibit, with items loaned by the Kentucky Derby Museum and the Kentucky Horse Park, will be at the Lyric Theater, 300 E. Third St., all week long for free.

While not officially part of the Breeders’ Cup Festival, seven local restaurants are part of “Dine Out for Charity” for the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation, which raises money for equine medical research. The event runs through Nov. 29 at Azur, Bru Burger, Dudley’s, J. Render’s and Lexington Diner in Lexington and Lil’s Coffee House and Trackside at the Depot in Paris.

If you’re more focused on the races themselves, you can attend the post position draw at Rupp Arena on Oct. 31. Doors will open at 1:30 p.m. with the draw beginning at 2:45 p.m. It’s free and you can watch as the posts positions are drawn on the floor of the arena for all the races, with video highlights of past and present Thoroughbred stars, and you might spot big-name trainers and owners in the crowd.

Live music will begin that night and continue through Nov. 5 every evening from 5:30 to 10 p.m. at Tandy Park on Main Street. Acts will include Canvas, Boogie G & the Titanics on Oct. 31; Lexington Music Education and Yacht Rock Review on Nov. 1; Kentucky All Stars on Nov. 2; Five Below Band and The Johnson Brothers on Nov. 3; Honeychild and Tee Dee Young on Nov. 4; and The Ranahans and the Lauren Mink Band on Nov. 5.

The Equine Film Festival runs Nov. 1-4 at the Kentucky Theatre on Main Street. This historic movie house, which recently celebrated its 100th anniversary, will show horse-related films including “Seabiscuit” and “Secretariat” and more. Check the theater site,, for the full schedule.

On Nov. 1, the Race Track Chaplaincy is celebrating its 50th anniversary of service to the Thoroughbred industry with a “Night of Faith, Hope & Love” in the Silks Lawn Chalet at Keeneland, beginning at 5 p.m. with a free meal, worship service and program, including the announcement of the 2022 White Horse Award.

The nights of Nov. 2-5, the Breeders’ Cup will have a video projection and light show on the front facade of the Old Courthouse on Main Street, next to Tandy Park. The projection on the building will include race and event footage, and more. The show will begin at 7:30 p.m. and repeat every half hour.

2022 Breeders Cup Projection Mapping Event Rendering.png
A rendering of the projection planned by the Breeders’ Cup Festival. Scenes of racing will project onto the Old Courthouse on Main Street next to Tandy Park. Provided

On Nov. 2, a special luncheon at Jeff Ruby’s will honor Keeneland CEO Shannon Arvin and racehorse owner and breeder Helen Alexander with a fundraiser for The Jockey Club Safety Net Foundation, which provides financial assistance to those in need in the Thoroughbred industry. Tickets (which start at $150) for the Fashionable Fillies luncheon, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., are available online at

For three nights — Nov. 2, 3 and 4 — the Kentucky Bourbon Showcase will show off the state’s “other” signature industry. Tickets for the event at Clerestory in Greyline Station, 101 W. Loudon Ave., are $50 and limited to 250 people. More than 20 distilleries will have bourbon tastings, plus food and musical entertainment from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Go to to purchase.

Breeders’ Cup Watch Party at Tandy Park will have large video screens and lots of TVs so you can watch the races live Nov. 4-5. Food trucks and outdoor bars will sell refreshments.

International Block Party at Greyline Station on Nov. 4 will feature special food, cocktails and music from around the world of racing beginning at 5 p.m.. Parking will be available at Legends Ball Park with free shuttle service to Greyline Station.

On Nov. 4, rub shoulders with other racing fans at the Thoroughbred Charities of America will host the Bash at the Breeders’ Cup in the Grand Reserve at 903 Manchester St. in the Distillery District. The event will include specialty cocktails, food and live music plus a live auction. Tickets are available

Victor Espinoza celebrates after riding Ce Ce to victory during the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint race at the Del Mar racetrack in Del Mar, Calif., Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021. Jae C. Hong AP

Kick off the second day of the championships with Breakfast at the Breeders’ Cup, a special edition of Keeneland’s Breakfast with the Works. You can watch final preparations for the races and buy breakfast at the track (seriously, the track kitchen is amazing.)

After the races, you can celebrate your winnings at the Breeders’ Cup Lounge at Grand Reserve on Nov. 5, 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. Tickets start at $20, cash bar available. For tickets go to

And if you want to visit one of Kentucky’s famous horse farms, go to to schedule a tour at Spendthrift Farm, Three Chimneys, Taylor Made Farm, Denali Stud, WinStar and more.

Spendthrift Farm on Iron Works Pike in Lexington is one of several Thoroughbred operations that will offer behind-the scenes tours during Breeders’ Cup Festival Week. Herald-Leader

Janet Patton covers restaurants, bars, food and bourbon for the Herald-Leader. She is an award-winning business reporter who also has covered agriculture, gambling, horses and hemp.
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