10/06/2011 2:24PM

Keeneland voices behind the scenes: Jimmy Young

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Jimmy Young

Head of maintenance
Age: 57
Years at Keeneland: 34
First position: maintenance crew

Do you have a favorite tree at Keeneland?
The magnolias. Beautiful trees. I love them so much I planted a bunch of them at my house.

What about a favorite place?
No, I don’t have one place. It’s the whole grounds. The whole place itself. I’ve been over every inch of this place. The whole place is special to me.

Racetracks aren’t particularly known for being clean, beautiful places. How do you keep Keeneland looking like it does?
My first boss, he was very strict. He told me we had to make sure Keeneland stays beautiful. We had to make sure it stays great. Keep it green, keep it clean. We don’t want a bunch of blacktop, we want trees and grass and we got to keep care of it, keep it up, for the people who come here.

What’s been the best change for Keeneland?
I have to say the Polytrack, because that was for the horses. You hear too much about horses dying and getting hurt, and that track has been something special. We did it for the horses, and I think it’s been proven now that it was the right thing to do.

What do you remember about your first day?
My brother Mike came here in March [of 1978], then he brought me here in July of that year. The first day they gave me a weedeater. I said, “Hell, I ain’t gonna be staying here for long.” I never thought I’d still be here. But it’s something that grows on you. It gets into your blood.

What was it like working with your brother for so long?
[Mike Young recently retired as head of maintenance.]
It had its ups and downs. We got real close over the years. The hardest part was when they made him boss, and so I was his understudy, so to speak. We butted heads, on this or that, but we always worked it out. Of course I miss him now.

You’ve been at Keeneland since you were 23. Do you ever think about getting a different job?
My next job is going to be fishing and riding my motorcycle. I don’t want to do anything else. I always say that Keeneland is the best place in the world to be, and if it’s not, then you haven’t been out here. Because once you come out, it’s going to be. 

VOICES BEHIND THE SCENES

Rogers Beasley, director of racing | Lewis Leach, mutuels department

Mary Page, track kitchen supervisor | Herb Petit, sales office

Cathy Schenck, head librarian | Bucky Sallee, track bugler | Ted Bassett, trustee emeritus