Sixteen stakes worth a total of $3.725 million, boosted by purse increases for the Beaumont Presented by Keeneland Select (G2) and Elkhorn (G2), headline Keeneland's 2014 spring race meet, to be held April 4-25.
Fifteen of the 16 stakes are graded, with half contested on the turf. Five Grade 1 stakes are slated for opening week, bookended by Keeneland’s signature classic preps, the $500,000 Central Bank Ashland, a 1 1/16-mile stakes for 3-year-old fillies on Saturday, April 5, and the $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass, a 1 1/8-mile event for 3-year-olds on Saturday, April 12.
The Central Bank Ashland and Toyota Blue Grass are worth 100 points each to the winners on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks (G1) and Road to the Kentucky Derby (G1), respectively.
Five graded stakes, including three Grade 1 events, worth a total of $1,625,000 will rank Toyota Blue Grass Day as one of the nation’s strongest race cards.
Anchored by the aforementioned $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass, the undercard will feature the $300,000 Madison (G1), for older fillies and mares going seven furlongs; the $300,000 Jenny Wiley (G1), for older fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on the turf; the $175,000 Commonwealth (G3), for older horses at seven furlongs; and the $100,000 Shakertown (G3), for older horses at 5½ furlongs on the turf.
This spring, purse money for both the Beaumont Presented by Keeneland Select (G2), for 3-year-old fillies at seven furlongs, 184 feet on April 13, and for the closing-day Elkhorn (G2), for older horses at 1½ miles on the turf, has been increased by $50,000, raising their total value from $150,000 to $200,000 each.
“Our No. 1 goal is to provide the best racing program in the country,” said Vice President of Racing W.B. Rogers Beasley. “We are exceptionally proud of this schedule and the exciting racing and wagering opportunities it offers our horsemen and fans.”
Because Easter Sunday falls on April 20 in 2014, three stakes will be held on Saturday, April 19: the $200,000 Coolmore Lexington (G3), for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles and a second Keeneland prep on the Road to the Kentucky Derby; the $100,000 Giant’s Causeway (L), for older fillies and mares going 5½ furlongs on the grass; and the $150,000 Ben Ali (G3), for older horses at 1 1/8 miles. The Ben Ali traditionally has been contested on the Sunday following Coolmore Lexington Day.
Keeneland’s spring meet is one of the richest and most widely attended in North America, and historically attracts the country’s leading owners, trainers and jockeys.
Last spring, highlights included record attendance and wagering; Horse of the Year Wise Dan’s victory in the Maker’s 46 Mile (G1) for his fifth graded stakes win at Keeneland; and meet record-setting wins for owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey, trainer Michael Maker and jockey Joel Rosario.
The 15-day spring meeting will feature racing Wednesday through Sunday; no racing will be conducted on Easter Sunday, April 20. Post time for the first race each day is 1:05 p.m. ET.