10/06/2011 1:57PM

Keeneland voices behind the scenes: Cathy Schenck


Cathy Schenck

Head Librarian; supervisor of sales repository
Years at Keeneland: 33

Is it true that the library used to have a bar?
Yes. At that time the library was on the second floor, across from the clubhouse. It had about 1,500 square feet. At the time, the library was also where Keeneland came to entertain the owners and trainers and their party after the stakes races. So there was a bar. And the bar was also open on Saturday during the race meet. Because we were part of the clubhouse area, on racedays, the library was closed at 11 o’clock to the general public. After that we were only open for clubhouse members.

What was it like moving the whole collection into the new building by the Keene barn in 2002?
It was a good transition. Part of me, I didn’t really want to leave the track side, and the access to people during the races and the sales, because we had a lot of people who used to come in during the races and sales. And I wasn’t sure how the traffic would be, if the people would still come over. But what was really nice is that we got our own separate building, temperature and humidity controls, and our own separate space. It was the first time we could put all of our material in one building, instead of storing it in several spaces, because we had run out of space even when we had 3,500 square feet.

What’s your favorite memory of how the library has been used?
It was exciting to work with the crew that came to film Seabiscuit here, working with the tech people, the set people. They wanted photographs of what a tack room would look like, what kind of equipment they would have at the barn, feed tubs and brushes, so we spent a lot of time going through old photographs of what things looked like in the late 30s and early 40s. That was fun. And then to see the movie come out, and see all the things we had worked on, that was gratifying. Plus we had worked with Laura [Hillenbrand] on the book. We did a lot of the fact-checking for that book.

Also, we had one event that was real nice. When Harvey Vanier was 80, Keeneland had a little party for him after the races. My husband had worked for Harvey and Nancy Vanier back in the 80s, and we’ve been friends for 25 years. So Nancy invited us. It was in the director’s room, with a lot of their friends, and their clients, and a lot of the Keeneland people were there. It’s a fond memory. It was a fun time. In trying to set something up with Nancy, I decided to go through all of our clippings files in the library, and I copied all of our articles that we had clipped through all the years on Harvey, and I put a little notebook together and gave it to them. And he kept looking at it. He couldn’t believe all the things that had been collected and written about him. I’m sure that wasn’t all of what we had. It was just what we managed to get clipped. Nancy says they still go through it. It meant a lot to them. And it was just something small I thought I was doing.

What do you enjoy most about your job?
The people. The people who work at Keeneland, it’s always been a close-knit group. Most people work at Keeneland for a long period of time, so they really become like your family. That just adds to your whole experience of working here. It becomes personal. Everyone here wants to put their best foot forward, everyone wants to present Keeneland in the best possible way. It’s just an excellent group of people to work with. Like I said, like family.


Rogers Beasley, director of racing | Jimmy Young, maintenance

Lewis Leach, mutuels department | Mary Page, track kitchen supervisor

Herb Petit, sales office | Bucky Sallee, track bugler | Ted Bassett, trustee emeritus