The University of Kentucky is by far Lexington's most popular team. The school fields 22 varsity sports teams, most of which compete in the Southeastern Conference. The most famous team by far is the men's basketball team, led by head coach Billy Gillispie. The Kentucky Men's Basketball team have won 7 NCAA Championships and are the winningest program in college basketball history.Lexington's only other collegiate team, the Transylvania University Pioneers compete in NCAA Division III athletics.
Lexington produced a number a major collegiate and professional athletes. The more well known include former Tates Creek High School and Louisville Cardinals kicker David Akers, who is the leading all time scoring in the Philadelphia Eagles franchise, former Louisville Cardinals football player and NFL Hall of Famer Frank Minnifield, Washington Nationals outfielder Austin Kearns, former Kentucky Wildcats football player Dermontti Dawson, considered one of the greatest centers in NFL history, former Kentucky Wildcats basketball player Tom Hammond, who now broadcast numerous athletic events for NBC, including the Olympics, Kentucky Derby, and Notre Dame Fighting Irish football.
Lexington is home to the Lexington Legends, a Class A minor league affiliate of the Houston Astros. Since its creation in 2001, Lexington has produced three major leaguers, John Buck (Catcher) of the Kansas City Royals, Kirk Saarloos (Starting Pitcher) of th Cincinnati Reds, and Mike Gallo (Relief Pitcher), of the Colorado Rockies. The Legends belong to the SAL (South Atlantic League), have one league title (2001) and 4 playoff appearances since 2001. Roger Clemens pitched in one game for the Legends in 2006 as part of his preparation to return to the Houston Astros.
The city is also home to the Lexington Horsemen, an arena football team in the arenafootball league. They have had strong success since their founding and have never missed the playoffs and have made it to the championship three different times winning one and coming very close in the other two.
Lexington was at one time home to the Kentucky Thoroughblades, a minor league (AHL) hockey team that played between 1996 and 2001. For one season (2002-2003) the ECHL Men O' War played minor league hockey in Lexington.
Lexington has been known as a major center for Race Horse breeding since the late 18th century due to the high calcium content in the soils of the Inner Bluegrass Region, which leads to stronger bones and greater durability in horses. The city is home to two horse racing tracks, Keeneland and the The Red Mile harness track. The Kentucky Horse Park in Northern Fayette County host the Rolex Kentucky Three Day, one of the top 5 annual equestrian eventing competitions in the world. The city will be hosting the 2010 World Equestrian Games, the world's largest equestrian event.