by Jen Roytz
Bookended between the iconic Keeneland Spring Race Meet and the Kentucky Derby, next week’s Rolex Kentucky 3-Day Event is a quintessential part of many horse lovers’ plans each April. Known as the triathlon of equestrian sports, this annual Olympic-level competition attracts the top horses and riders from around the world to the Kentucky Horse Park to compete in the premier eventing competition in North America.
For visitors coming to Lexington for the Rolex, it is about so much more than just the competition. There is a seemingly endless array of activities, events and experiences available, and we’ve taken the opportunity to highlight a variety of them for you.
2017 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event
Kentucky Horse Park
April 26 – First Horse Inspection
April 27-28 – Dressage
April 29 – Cross Country
April 30 – Stadium Jumping
Throughout the competition spectators can visit the expansive vendor area, with row after row of retailers selling anything and everything an equestrian could ever want, from apparel and footwear to tack, equipment, supplements, horse blankets, jewelry, artwork, farm/barn equipment and much, much more.
Maker’s Mark Secretariat Center
April 27 – April 30; Located near the back of the Kentucky Horse Park
Located on the Kentucky Horse Park grounds, the Maker’s Mark Secretariat Center (MMSC) is a Thoroughbred retraining and adoption facility. Throughout the Rolex Kentucky 3-Day Event, guests are invited to take a shuttle from the Rolex Trade Fair to the MMSC facility to tour their operation, see horses currently available for adoption and watch their under saddle training in progress. Visit them at booth 231 in the Rolex Trade Fair or go to www.secretariatcenter.org/events for more information.
“Man o’ War: The Mostest Horse That Ever Was” Museum Exhibit
Ongoing throughout Rolex weekend and beyond; 9:00AM to 5:00PM; Int’l Museum of the Horse, Kentucky Horse Park
Commemorating the 100th anniversary of the birth of Man o’ War, the Kentucky Horse Park’s International Museum of the Horse’s featured exhibit chronicles the life and legacy of “Big Red.” Visitors will be taken back in time as they see rare photos and footage of Man o’ War, see artifacts from throughout his life and read accounts from the people who knew him best. For more information go to www.imh.org.
Keeneland Race Course
April 26-28; First Post Time: 1:05PM
Visit one of racing’s most beautiful historically significant racetracks for the last few days of their spring race meet. Guests are welcome to come early in the morning for free to watch workouts from the rail or attend the races in the afternoon. For more information, visit www.keeneland.com.
Horse Country Tours
Tours Daily; Times vary based on tour selections
Many of the premier farms in the Bluegrass have joined together to offer unique “behind the fences” tours through Horse Country Tours. Guests can select from a variety of guided tour options to visit stud farms, nurseries, clinic, feed mills and more. For more information or to book a tour, go to www.visithorsecountry.com.
Old Friends Farm
Open Daily; 10:00AM – 4:00PM
Known as the living museum of horse racing, Old Friends Farm is a Thoroughbred retirement farm home to former racehorses and stallions who earned their place in history. Residents of the farm include Kentucky Derby winners Silver Charm and War Emblem, three-time Santa Anita Handicap winner Game On Dude, Breeders’ Cup Champions Amazombie, Alphabet Soup, Little Mike and more. Tours are by appointment only at 10:00AM, 1:00PM and 3:00PM and the gift shop is open daily. For more information, go to www.oldfriendsequine.com.
Cross Country Course Walk with Cathy Wieschhoff
Friday, April 28, 1:00PM; Start Box, Rolex Cross Country Course, Kentucky Horse Park
Get a guided walking tour and insight from eventing pro and former Rolex competitor Cathy Wieschhoff, 2016 Retired Racehorse Project’s Thoroughbred Makeover Eventing Division Winner. The walk will begin at the cross country start box and guests will get expert insight into how a seasoned rider would evaluate and navigate the course.
Thoroughbred Makeover Preview
Friday, April 28th 4:00PM and Saturday, April 29th 9:30AM; Walnut Arena, Kentucky Horse Park
Watch previous Retired Racehorse Project Thoroughbred Makeover trainers Nick Larkin (Eventing) Emily Brollier Curtis (Dressage), Isabela de Sousa (Show Jumping) Buck Schott (Polo) show off the horses they have in training for the 2017 Retired Racehorse Project Thoroughbred Makeover and learn what they are doing to prepare them for the competition.
New Vocations Open Barn and BBQ
Friday, April 28th 5:30PM-8:30PM; New Vocations at Mereworth Farm
New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program will show off its new facility with an Open Barn and BBQ. The evening will also feature demonstrations and discussions from Valerie Ashker (mother of 4-time Rolex competitor Laine Ashker; Valerie will discuss her cross-country trek aboard her OTTB), Lindsey Partridge (2015 Thoroughbred Makeover winner) and Dorothy Crowell (eventing rider/clinician; finished 2nd on off-track Thoroughbred Molokai at the 1998 Rolex Kentucky 3-Day Event). Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at http://www.horseadoption.com/2017-open-barn-and-bbq/#.
RK5K – Rolex Kentucky 5K Twilight Race
Friday, April 28 at 6:30PM; Rolex Stadium, Kentucky Horse Park
Benefitting Central Kentucky Riding for Hope, a therapeutic riding center located on the Kentucky Horse Park grounds, the RK5K race will begin at the Rolex Stadium and will take participants throughout the Park’s grounds. There is also a one-mile fun run/walk. Registration is $35 for the 5K and $25 for the fun run/walk. To register, go to https://runsignup.com/Race/KY/Lexington/rk5k.
Hoedown at Hagyard
Saturday, April 29th, 6:00PM; Hagyard Equine Medical Associates Sport Horse Complex
Located across from the Kentucky Horse Park’s main entrance, Hagyard Equine Medical Associates is one of the world’s premier equine hospitals. Once again they will partner with the Retired Racehorse Project to host a party on Saturday that will include BBQ, an open bar, live music and Equicizer racing. Tickets can be purchased in advance or the day of the event at the Retired Racehorse Project booth in the Rolex Trade Fair.
The Future of the Thoroughbred Makeover: A Planning and Strategy Session
Sunday, April 30th 9:30AM; Fasig-Tipton Sales Pavilion
Whether you’ve never been to the Retired Racehorse Project’s annual $100,000 Thoroughbred Makeover or you’re a veteran of the competition, you are invited to come to Fasig-Tipton and take part in a strategy session and to learn more about the event. The Retired Racehorse Project is asking attendees to offer insight on how they feel the organization can best work to “increase demand for Thoroughbreds and build bridges to second careers.” The event is free, but guests are asked to RSVP here.
Jen Roytz is a marketing, publicity and comprehensive communications specialist based in Lexington, Kentucky. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, her professional focus lies in the fields of equine, health care, corporate and non-profit marketing. She holds board affiliations with the Make a Wish Foundation, Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance and the Retired Racehorse Project, among others. While she currently has no plans to build an arc, she is the go-to food source for two dogs, two cats and two off-track Thoroughbreds.
Email Jen your story ideas at Jenlroytz@gmail.com or connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.