10/06/2011 1:30PM

Keeneland voices behind the scenes: Lewis Leach

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Lewis Leach

Mutuels department
Age: 85
Years at Keeneland: 52

What’s your first memory of Keeneland?
I was about 10 years old, and my father and my uncle took me out to the track. My uncle, he was from Detroit, and my dad wanted to show him the place. They were just building it then. I remember seeing the judges’ stands, and I wanted to get up there, see what it looked like, and so I climbed up, and they yelled, “Get down from there!” My uncle, when Keeneland would start doing their advertising, he would develop, in his house, these pictures of famous racehorses, and then we’d take them around the stores in town, and they’d hang them up in the windows. This was for advertising, to get people to come in.

How did you get started at Keeneland?
I worked for the government, for the post office, and I started working out there to get social security. At the post office we didn’t pay social security.

How has the track changed?
The biggest change is the crowds. You see people from all over now. And the stands, how much they’ve improved, and the grounds, how they’ve kept them so beautiful. It’s the prettiest track around. People can just go there for the beauty. They don’t even have to bet. That’s pretty remarkable, if you ask me. I’ve spent a lot of time up in the press box, and I used to kid around with Cliff Guilliams [a former DRF reporter]. He died as a young man, you know. And Marty [McGee, a DRF reporter]. He’s a great guy. It’s just so enjoyable for me to get out and see people, get out of the house. I always look forward to the spring and fall.

Are you ever going to retire?
Maybe this might be my last year. I’ve had both knees operated on, and I move a little slower now. I hate to think about retiring. But I go up and down the stairs from the first floor to the basement a lot. The bank’s in the basement. I keep asking them to put an escalator there. But I’m about the only person who would use it.

VOICES BEHIND THE SCENES

Rogers Beasley, director of racing | Jimmy Young, maintenance

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

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