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The Red Mile 2014 Standardbred Meet:
August 3- October 5


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Things to do while visiting Lexington, other than Red Mile racing


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posted on 9/12/2012 12:33 pm

  I love The Red Mile and in turn, Lexington, KY. The time spent there is always a highlight, largely because of the local knowledge I have gained over the years. So...I  have put together a few suggestions based on my personal experience and tastes, in the hope that those coming to Lexington during The Red Mile's fall Grand Circuit meet might enjoy all that this charming city has to offer.

  At the top of the list is Keeneland, especially if you've never been. Their meet begins on October 5 and opening weekend features several Breeders Cup preps. Morning works (every day) will suffice if that is all your schedule allows. 

  In the same vein, there are no finer examples of equine opulence than the historic thoroughbred farms that dot the Lexington landscape. There are a number of guided tours, the recommended course of action.

  Lodging is ample, though with UK home football games scheduled for both Saturdays early booking is advisable. Many horsemen stay at the Spring Hill Suites directly in front of the track, Holiday Inn Express across the street or the Hilton downtown but there are thousands of rooms within 15 miles of the race track, some at considerable savings if you don't mind a bit of a drive. There are also a few relocation services that offer the comfort of a completely furnished luxury apartment for about the price of a hotel room.

  Dining in Lexington...now there's a topic I know more than a little about, the options are virtually endless. While you attend the races, I happily endorse The Red Mile clubhouse operated by Bayou Bluegrass Catering. Their product is well beyond standard racetrack fare and there is a nice bar downstairs.

  Near the grounds, there is a great little Mexican place, Jalapenos, in a strip mall across the street from the track. That same plaza holds the Buffalo Wild Wings, where the backstretch goes to drink after the races, and also a bigger place called Saddle Ridge, where they go when they're drunk. Just on down Broadway a few blocks is Logan's Roadhouse, a moderately priced steak chain. 

  On the sandwich/lunch circuit, Sawyers has great hamburgers and fries, Sidebar offers a funky, eclectic crowd and Stella's is the standard. The Mellow Mushroom is my fave pizza joint, it's over on the UK campus where there are a ton of college bars as you'd imagine. There are several good chain restaurants on Nicholasville Road near Fayette Mall. A short, scenic drive to the satellite town of Midway offers Wallace Station (recently featured on Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives) and the Holly Hill Inn, a delightful gem known to few.

   I'd say the most popular sit-down dining choice for regulars is Malones (several locations) offering steaks, really good bars and open on Sunday, when most places are closed. The Merrick Inn has a old time southern menu and a great outdoor patio bar. One sneaky lil' place I've loved for years for sushi and a surprisingly good steak is the Kobe Stone Grill...tell Alex I sent you. Next door is Azur, another popular spot with outdoor dining and a lively crowd. A new place on the list for this fall is Windy Corners, strongly endorsed by several. 

  Personally, I prefer downtown Lexington, where there's always something goin' on...so lemme turn you on to a few of my faves.

  Last year, while lookin for a decent meal with a couple of my best eatin' buddies, Waterstone and Brower, we stumbled onto Nick Ryan's Saloon and it was so good we returned several times. Right across the street, the Grey Goose offers strong drinks in a casual setting. 

  Dudley's is a staple for the fine dining set, de Sha's is good for standard American fare and A La Lucie and La Deauville are French bistro types. Table Three Ten I tried last year and liked. The Village Idiot is new for this fall and several local gourmets recommend it. I also am looking forward to trying the menu at Shakespeare & Co., another intriguing addition since last fall. Sadly, Furlongs has gone under (again) but has been replaced by Coles on Main, which looks interesting.

  For fun, ACE Weekly is the go to resource to discover the local entertainment for the week. Each Thursday evening, Downtown Live offers live music and local delicacies in Cheapside Park. Next door is the namesake Cheapside Bar & Grille, kinda cool with a band on weekends.  

  Being a college town, there are many bars that feature live entertainment, particularly on weekends. This list contains them all...Redmond's is right at the top...it's country and be prepared to defend your spot at the bar. Al's Bar, Buster's Billiards & Back Room and Cosmic Charlie's all offer live shows regularly.

  If your intent is to sit and drink, not that there's anything wrong with that, the Bigg Blue Martini in the Hilton lobby can be good for people watching. The Horse & Barrel and Bluegrass Tavern are bourbon bars right in the center of downtown. If The Beer Trappe and Marikka's don't have the brew you're lookin' for then you're bein' too fussy. The West Sixth Street Brewing Co. really has no restaurant, but you can bring whatever you like and drink their beer, brewed on site. There are food trucks every Thursday-Saturday.

  For the adventurous, I suggest The Bar Complex for the weekly drag shows and disco dancing...or come look for me at Cowboys.

 

 

Nick Salvi



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