Funeral held for Keeneland 'starter' Spec Alexander

Robert Lee "Spec" Alexander, Keeneland's head starter.
Robert Lee "Spec" Alexander, Keeneland's head starter.(WKYT)
Published: Jun. 11, 2019 at 6:02 PM EDT
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Tuesday was the day many people bid their final farewells for a man who was synonymous with Keeneland.

Robert 'Spec' Alexander's job was to get the horses out of the starting gates at Keeneland. He was laid to rest Tuesday, and the gate he spent so much time monitoring helped in a fitting farewell.

He got his start as an exercise rider in the 1950s, but he would eventually take over at Keeneland where he became head starter.

"He helped everybody," horse owner Judy Mickelson said. "He would make sure that got our horses schooled at the gate properly."

Those who rode under his watch say he was one of the best in the business.

"The gate is a dangerous place on a horse," trainer Karen Crouch said. "You ride up there in the morning to school him, and he always made you feel safe because you can get hurt real bad up there."

During his time at Keeneland, Alexander led thousands of races standing right next to the starting gate. So they felt it was appropriate the gate should be used to lead his procession.

That gate would open one last time for him outside Bluegrass Memorial Gardens.

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