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LEXINGTON, KY, (WDRB-TV)--Some of the fastest horses in the country are en route to Kentucky. But track officials at Keeneland are counting on a "dark horse" to help attract new race fans for the upcoming fall meet.
That's mainly because the horse racing industry is under attack from outside competition. That's despite the fact that horse racing has always been one of Kentucky's favorite past times.
"The horse business is the one thing that Kentucky is known about all around the world," says Bill Thomason, President and CEO of Keeneland.
The competition is perhaps what led Churchill downs added night racing and why Keeneland's new president and CEO says they're not giving up without a fight.
Thomason says, "We're the horse capital of the world, and we've got to protect that and defend it in every way that we can."
As the track prepares for this weekend's fall meet, Thomason says they are not expecting the horses to do all of the work.
He says, "We're willing to try a lot of different things that we think are going to better the industry and are going to better racing and are going to connect with this new modern day fan."
The 17 day meet will include a lot of first, including a social media presence to attract new race fans. "So we are doing an instagram contest where people can take their favorite instagram photo and load it to our instagram channel. We do a number of promotions and give aways on Facebook," says Christa Marrillia, Director of Marketing at Keeneland.
The theme for the first weekend is fall stars, but it doesn't end there. Marrillia says, "It's a special weekend but we thought we'd take that concept through out the entire race meet so we thought we would highlight some other stars so you have community stars, you have military stars, you have your fans are stars."
The new president says it's all part of their commitment to horse racing. "We're committed to bring young fans into the business, we're committed to protecting the integrity of the sport."