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Kentuckian says it 'was quite an honor' when Queen Elizabeth II visited Hermitage Farm in 1986

A lover of horse racing and a thoroughbred owner herself, the Queen came to the Commonwealth several times.

GOSHEN, Ky. — After 70 years on the throne, Queen Elizabeth II passed away Thursday at the age of 96. 

Kentucky has a deep history with the Queen. She visited multiple times, largely because of her love for thoroughbreds.

"I would always take solace when I would see her addressing crowds or out in public. And I'd say well, we're still doing good," said Bill Landes, the general manager of Hermitage Operations LLC.

A lover of horse racing and a thoroughbred owner herself, the Queen came to the Commonwealth several times, including a visit in 1986.

One of those stops? The Hermitage Farm, just 30 minutes outside of Louisville.

Landes said he remembers the visit to this day.

"She was mostly out with the horses," he said. "She didn't have to leave Lexington, and for her to come to Goshen, Kentucky, 70 miles west of Versailles in the traditional bluegrass? That was quite an honor."

The main house at the Hermitage is just one of the many spots the Queen enjoyed. Landes said she decided to come to see the many different horses that peaked her interest.

"When we knew that she was coming, we wanted to replicate the Keeneland sales experience," he said.

He said the Queen was very hands-on, and wanted to know more about the thoroughbreds the farm had.

"She was absolutely fascinated with the shoeing and when Mr. Jones picked up the yearling's hoof and showed it to her, she bent over it and asked a jillion questions about it," Landes said.

Landes said for him and his team, it's a day they keep close to their hearts.

"It's something that we should be proud of and stick with me the rest of my days," he said.

Now reflecting on the life the Queen lived, Landes said he's happy to have been a small part of it.

The queen also visited more recently in 2007 to attend the Kentucky Derby.

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