Preserving Racing's Rich History
Established in 1939, Keeneland Library is the world’s largest repository of information and image resources chronicling the Thoroughbred industry. The Library provides a facility and forum dedicated to collecting, preserving, sharing, and ensuring access to a wide array of collections to preserve the Thoroughbred industry’s history and present as an investment in its future. Covering all aspects of the industry, our collection houses nearly 30,000 volumes of books and journals dating from the 1500s, 5-million photographic negatives and prints dating from the 1800s, and millions of newspaper and magazine articles, as well as memorabilia, artifacts, and equine art by prominent artists.
Located on Keeneland’s grounds and open to the public weekdays year-round, the Library connects thousands of journalists, academics, racing fans, and industry stakeholders from around the world to information and image resources for a variety of projects. Through this global reach, the Library’s materials are utilized in numerous news stories, industry publications, broadcasts, exhibits, films, racetrack media guides, and farm and track websites and promotional materials. We also preserve and share our collections with a growing international patron base by producing our own targeted digitization projects, exhibits, youth and adult educational programs, research workshops, and a Lecture Series celebrating the published works of authors who conduct research at the Library.
Since its founding, the Library mirrors the principles that define Keeneland to this day – preserving racing’s rich history while innovating for the good of the horse and betterment of the sport.
About this Site
Launched in 2015, this website connects our patrons, both in the United States and internationally, to a sample of our collections through virtual exhibits and searchable items.
By utilizing the site’s Navigation Bar patrons can access featured Items, Collections, and Exhibits. You can also search the site’s content using keywords in the Search Bar. Additionally, the Browse Items tab in the Navigation Bar provides you with the options to browse by tags or conduct an advanced search.
New Items, Collections, and Exhibits will be added to the site on an ongoing basis. If there is a certain collection you would like to see featured, please let us know. We would love to hear from you.
Keeneland Library Collections
Keeneland Library began with an initial donation of 2,300 volumes from the private collection of William Arnold Hanger, a Lexington businessman, Keeneland Trustee, and member of its Board of Directors. Mr. Hanger purchased the carefully compiled Turf library of Robert James Turnbull, a New York lawyer and bibliophile. This initial donation from Mr. Hanger formed the nucleus of today's Library.
The collections feature a broad range of materials, ranging from photographs, newspaper articles, historic and current industry magazines and serials, and nearly every significant book written about Thoroughbred and racing and breeding. The Library’s book collections span a range of topics, including sales and racing, equine science and art, biographies, the history of the horse in culture, racing history, memoirs, equine law and economics, theories about handicapping and breeding, and even fiction, photography, and poetry. A sample of Keeneland Library holdings includes:
Charles Christian Cook Collection: More than 18,000 early to mid-20th century glass plate negatives of one of the first photographers in the U.S. to specialize in racing and racetrack scenes.
Bert Morgan Collection: Over 400,000 film negatives of racing, finish line, and winner’s circle shots from the 1930s to the early 1960s.
John C. Hemment Collection: Scrapbooks featuring 7,000 photo prints dating from the late 1800’s – the world’s largest collection of early U.S. Turf photography.
Bill Mochon Collection: These 5,000 photo prints and negatives showcase West Coast racetracks, racehorses, industry stakeholders, and celebrities from the 1960s through the 2010s.
Raftery Turfotos Collection: Our newest collection, gifted by Barbara D. Livingston in December 2023, represents the most comprehensive U.S. Turf photography collection of the 20th century, comprising nearly 2-million prints dating from the 1930s through the 1990s from several Eastern racetracks.
Katey Barrett Collection: 12,000 color slides capture Barrett’s prolific work in Southern California. Acquired in 2014, the collection was the Library’s first color photograph collection and the first to showcase a female Turf photographer.
Daily Racing Form: More than 7,500 volumes, including copies of the Form’s Chart Books which contain charts of every official Thoroughbred race in North America from 1896 through 1990.
The Peb Collection: Approximately 4,000 pieces of original artwork by the internationally celebrated caricature and equine cartoon artist Pierre Bellocq, known as “Peb.”
The American Stud Book: Every volume published since 1896.
Spirit of the Times: 1836 to 1903 editions of the New York-based weekly newspaper that covered Thoroughbred racing, all types of sports, foreign correspondence, theatre, literature, women’s fashion, opera, and the stage.
North American Industry Publications: Complete copies of The Blood-Horse (started in 1929), The Thoroughbred Record (started in 1875), and its successor, Thoroughbred Times, as well as nearly 100 other industry serial journal and magazine collections.
International Industry Publications: England’s monthly sporting periodical, The Sporting Magazine, from 1792 to 1869; the annual Bloodstock Breeders’ Review with coverage of international racing from 1912 to 1980; Timeform Racehorses with information about every horse that raced in England from 1943 to the 2010s; Weatherby’s Racing Calendar from 1773 to 1971; and substantial holdings from France, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Belgium, New Zealand, and Australia.
For more information about the Library’s collections, please visit our website.
Keeneland Library is free and open to the public year-round from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. The Library is closed on federal holidays.
Keeneland Library is a reference-only, non-circulating library that offers wireless Internet, work and study spaces, and public-access computers. Available 24/7, the online catalog provides an index to some of our collections, as well as full-text versions of select online books and journals.
“Keeneland Library is one of racing’s most valuable assets. It is a great reservoir of the past and an essential key to the future.”
- Joe Hirsch, Columnist, Daily Racing Form
“The beauty of Keeneland Library is that in its magnificent archives all of racing’s greats are immortal, living forever in the supreme moments of their youth. Racing is a sport of many treasures. None greater than this one.”
- Laura Hillenbrand, Author of Seabiscuit: An American Legend