Keeneland Schedules 16 Stakes for 2017 Spring Meet
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Keeneland announced a $4.325 million stakes schedule for its 2017 Spring Meet that offers 16 stakes, featuring the $1 million Toyota Blue Grass (G2) and $500,000 Central Bank Ashland (G1), and introduces Barbara Banke’s Stonestreet as the signature sponsor of the $200,000 Lexington (G3).
Purse money for the Lexington and opening day Transylvania (G3) Presented by Keeneland Select have been increased by $50,000 each.
The 15-day Spring Meet, to be held April 7-28, will offer racing Wednesdays through Sundays except Easter Sunday, April 16.
“Keeneland receives loyal support from owners and trainers across North America, and we are proud to once again feature such a rich and diverse stakes schedule,” Keeneland Vice President of Racing and Sales Bob Elliston said. “We continue to pursue initiatives to provide an exceptional racing program for horsemen and competitive wagering opportunities for fans.”
Fifteen of the spring’s 16 stakes are graded events with half contested on the turf.
The Spring Meet kicks off Friday, April 7, with the Transylvania, a 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds on the turf. Purse money for the Transylvania was elevated from $100,000 to $150,000 for 2017.
Keeneland has carded blockbuster days of racing on consecutive Saturdays, offering multiple stakes races that attract the nation’s human and equine stars.
Two prominent classic preps, the Toyota Blue Grass and Central Bank Ashland, headline opening Saturday, April 8. The Toyota Blue Grass, for 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles, and the Central Bank Ashland, for 3-year-old fillies going 1 1/16 miles, are worth 100 points each to the winners on the Road to the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Road to the Kentucky Oaks (G1), respectively.
The early nomination deadline for both races is Feb. 18. Late nominations are due March 22.
On April 8, NBC Sports Network will provide live coverage of the Toyota Blue Grass, along with the Wood Memorial (G2) at Aqueduct and Santa Anita Derby (G1), from 5-7 p.m. ET. Post time for the Toyota Blue Grass is 6 p.m.
Three other graded stakes form a strong undercard on Toyota Blue Grass Day and showcase top older horses, including the $300,000 Madison (G1), for fillies and mares and contested at seven furlongs; $200,000 Shakertown (G2), for 3-year-olds and up at 5½ furlongs on the turf; and $250,000 Commonwealth (G3), for older horses over seven furlongs.
Anchoring the second Saturday of racing, April 15, is the $350,000 Coolmore Jenny Wiley (G1), a 1 1/16-mile race for fillies and mares on the turf won last year by champion turf female Tepin. The Stonestreet Lexington, a 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds and one of the final preps on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, will carry a purse of $200,000, an increase of $50,000. The Stonestreet Lexington awards the winner 10 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.
Rounding out the day’s card is the $200,000 Ben Ali (G3) for older horses racing 1 1/8 miles and $100,000 Giant’s Causeway (L), a 5½-furlong turf race for fillies and mares.
A fourth Grade 1 stakes, the $300,000 Maker’s 46 Mile, one of the sport’s major early season turf stakes, will be held Friday, April 14. In 2016, Miss Temple City became the first filly to run in and also to win the Maker’s 46 Mile.
Because Easter Sunday falls on April 16 in 2017, the $150,000 Adena Springs Beaumont (G3), for 3-year-old fillies going seven furlongs, 184 feet, will be held a week earlier on Sunday, April 9.
Older horses highlight stakes competition during the final days of the Spring Meet. The $100,000 Hilliard Lyons Doubledogdare (G3) for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles is scheduled for Friday, April 21, and is followed by the $250,000 Dixiana Elkhorn (G2) at 1½ miles on the turf on Saturday, April 22, and the 150,000 Bewitch (G3) for fillies and mares racing 1½ miles on the turf on closing day, April 28.
Gates open at 11 a.m. Post time for the first race is 1:05 p.m. except Saturday, April 8, and Saturday, April 15 when racing begins at 12:35 p.m.