Edited Keeneland Staff Release – Keeneland announced today that the track has planted six cherry trees – three on either side of the infield tote board – in tribute to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. A lifelong horsewoman, Queen Elizabeth II attended the races at Keeneland on Oct. 11, 1984, for the inaugural running of the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup, for which she presented the trophy.
Keeneland will celebrate the 39th running of the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1), now presented by Dixiana and worth $600,000, on Saturday. The internationally prestigious, invitation only turf stakes for 3-year-old fillies has been won by champions Dayatthespa and Rushing Fall, and by such multiple graded stakes winners as Cambier Parc, Film Maker, Memories of Silver, Riskaverse, Shantisara (IRE) and Vacare.
The tree planting at Keeneland is part of The Queen’s Green Canopy initiative to mark The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and to serve as a living legacy to her “extraordinary service to her country and her people.” The Queen passed away
“Queen Elizabeth II was an unmatched horsewoman and a tremendous patron of Thoroughbred racing,” Keeneland President and CEO Shannon Arvin said. “We were fortunate to have welcomed The Queen to Keeneland and Central Kentucky, and her visits to the Bluegrass created a lasting connection. We are honored to pay tribute to her racing legacy.”
To further commemorate The Queen’s historic visit to Keeneland, her Platinum Jubilee and her involvement in Thoroughbred racing, the Keeneland Library this year featured the photo exhibit “Elizabeth II: Horsewoman.” A video of the exhibit and a beautifully appointed scrapbook of the photos on display were sent to The Queen, who responded with a thank-you letter (penned by her Lady-in-Waiting) on Windsor Castle stationery (an image of the letter is attached).