The Bluegrass is synonymous with Thoroughbred racing and breeding farms. But Kentucky is home to yet another legendary track better known for its trotters than its sprinters.

Lexington’s Red Mile—the second-oldest harness racing track in the United States—has played host to the elite of the Standardbred industry for nearly a century and a half. The aptly named Red Mile (the track is one mile in length with a surface of rich red clay) is the site of more world-record harness racintg performances than any other track.  It’s also home to the third leg of trotting’s Triple Crown: the Kentucky Futurity.

A bit of Red Mile history courtesy of Patti Nickell’s Horse Lover’s Guide to Kentucky:

“It was just a few months after Aristides won the first Kentucky Derby that the Kentucky Trotting horse Breeders Association decided it was not to be outdone by its counterparts in the Thoroughbred industry. Thus, on September 28, 1875, the organization inaugurated its state-of-the-art facilities and was sorely disappointed when just a few diehards showed up to christen it. The reason was quickly discovered: The organizers had failed to advertise the grand opening. That was quickly remedied for the next race and The Red Mile became an instant success.

Recognized as the world’s fastest harness track, it has generated more two-minute-mile world champions and record holders than any other Standardbred track.

Visitors are often curious about the unusual Round Barn that dominates the entrance to the track. The octagonal structure, listed on the national Register of Historic Places, originally housed floral exhibits and later served as a barn, but is now used for private events. Another historic building adjacent to The Red Mile houses the sale pavilion of Tattersalls, the renowned international horse sales organization.”

The Red Mile also features the prestigious Junior League Horse Show and Quarter Horse racing in July before its annual Aug. 15 to Oct. 23 Standardbred race meet.

1200 Red Mile Rd., Lexington. 859/255-0752; Photos courtesy Anne M. Eberhardt.

Upcoming Horse Lover’s Events
A Gift from the Desert: The Art, History and Culture of the Arabian Horse, International Museum of the Horse, Lexington: May 29-Oct 15
Ellis Park Race Meet, Henderson: July 10 – Labor Day
Red Mile Quarter Horse meet, Lexington: July 16-17
Breyerfest, Lexington: July 23
BLM Wild Horse Adoption, Lakeside Arena, Frankfort: July 23-24
Mercer County Fair and Horse Show, Harrodsburg: July 26-31
Hall of Fame Reining Show, Kentucky Horse Park, Lexington: July 28
Kentucky Summer Horse Show & North American Junior & Young Riders Championship, Kentucky Horse Park, Lexington: July 28-Aug. 1