Thoroughbred tracks across the country have heard the cry for new owners in the industry, and many are testing innovative concepts in order to draw fresh blood into the sport. Keeneland’s newest approach to this dilemma has come in the form of a partnership with The Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.V.
Standing in the Keeneland paddock on a warm summer morning June 16, Keeneland president Nick Nicholson announced that the two organizations would use “cross-pollination” tactics in order to work together for their mutual benefit.
“We are honored to be associated with the Greenbrier and to look at the things we have in common: commitment to quality, integrity, our patrons, and the community in which we live, so it’s a great partnership,” said Nicholson.
The Greenbrier, a national historic landmark, offers a large resort hotel and more than 50 recreational activities, including three golf courses, indoor and outdoor tennis courts, and an upscale spa.
Nicholson said a major part of Keeneland’s partnership with the resort will include putting together special packages for people that buy horses at the sales or win prestigious races. Eventually, Keeneland hopes to provide Greenbrier-related benefits for all its clubhouse members and owners. In turn, The Greenbrier will promote Keeneland by placing its magazine, art, and memorabilia throughout its resort and encouraging its patrons to visit the Lexington racetrack.
“Keeneland will make special space available for (customers of) The Greenbrier,” said Nicholson. “We’re looking forward to developing that through the years.
“In turn, when people attend a Keeneland sale and buy a $1 million horse, when members of the media ask them what they’re going to do now, they’ll have the opportunity to say, ‘We’re going to The Greenbrier.’ ”
Jim Justice, who bought the 200-year-old Greenbrier in 2009 in hopes of restoring the facility to its previous splendor, said he plans to have private helicopters and airplanes there as early as the fall season to make the 28-minute flight to Lexington easier for customers.
“Keeneland is magical, eloquent, and has mystique about it,” said Justice. “It has all the same characteristics as the Greenbrier. The opportunities are limitless; now you have the joining of two organizations that are going to try every way we can to cross-market and do things together that will be beneficial to all.”
Keeneland’s partnership with The Greenbrier comes just weeks before the July 2 grand opening of its Casino Club, a 102,000 square foot gaming facility with new restaurants, lounges, and upscale retail boutiques.
“With the opening of the Casino Club only three weeks away, we are thrilled Keeneland will be providing us with historic memorabilia for Twelve Oaks, our equestrian-themed lounge in the casino,” said Justice. “As we embark on this exciting new chapter in The Greenbrier’s history, having a relationship with Keeneland reinforces my belief that luxury travelers will greatly enjoy having an amenity like the Casino Club.”