$750,000 Toyota Blue Grass; new features, popular special events highlight season
Lexington, KY (March 29, 2012) – Keeneland kicks off its 2013 spring race meeting on Friday, April 5, marking the start of 16 days of extraordinary racing featuring the nation’s top stables and riders and headlined by the 89th running of the $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass (G1), a springboard to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1).
Exciting wagering opportunities, a jam-packed special events calendar, and enhanced amenities for fans of all ages and interests highlight the spring meet, which runs through Friday, April 26.
Keeneland will conduct racing on Wednesday through Sunday with the post time for the first race each day at 1:05 p.m. (ET). Racing will be featured on the cable network TVG beginning at 11 a.m., and fans can watch every race live – at no charge – on the track’s website, Keeneland.com, where the latest information related to handicapping, promotions and all things Keeneland can be found.
Home of world-class racing
Keeneland offers spectacular racing in a setting unlike any other racetrack in America. The nation’s top jockeys and trainers compete for some of the country’s richest purse money – 16 stakes, including five Grade 1 events, are worth a total of $3.625 million. A purse increase also will add more than $627,000 to the overnight purse pool, raising Keeneland’s average daily purses to more than $611,250 – among the highest in North America.
The track’s ultra-competitive jockey colony is set to include Racing Hall of Famer Gary Stevens, who returned to the saddle in January after a retirement, and Eclipse Award winner Julien Leparoux, who captured his fifth consecutive, and ninth overall, leading rider title during the 2012 fall season, as well as leading female jockey Rosie Napravnik. Stevens last rode at Keeneland in 2005, his final season of competition.
Keeneland’s signature race, the Toyota Blue Grass, is this year worth 100 points to the winner on the new Road to the Kentucky Derby (G1). Keeneland, in collaboration with The Jockey Club and NBC Sports Group, will provide live coverage of the Toyota Blue Grass on Saturday, April 13, from 4:30–6 p.m. ET on NBC. The 90-minute broadcast is part of the recently announced Road to the Kentucky Derby series spotlighting six major prep races for the 2013 Kentucky Derby.
The Toyota Blue Grass, a 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds, has been the springboard for 19 horses that have gone to win the Kentucky Derby. Keeneland set an all-time attendance record last year on Toyota Blue Grass Day when 40,617 fans were at the races, while a record $1,925,900 was wagered on the Toyota Blue Grass.
In another change for this year, the $300,000 Madison Stakes (G1), won last year by eventual champion female sprinter Groupie Doll, was moved to April 13, joining the $300,000 Jenny Wiley (G1), for older fillies and mares, and the $175,000 Commonwealth and $100,000 Shakertown, both Grade 3 stakes for older horses, as part of an exciting Toyota Blue Grass Day undercard.
The $500,000 Central Bank Ashland, for 3-year-old fillies racing 1 1/16 miles, will be held opening Saturday, April 6. The Central Bank Ashland is a major steppingstone on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks (G1), awarding 100 points to the winner as part of the new point system for classic contenders. Thirty-one fillies have used the Central Bank Ashland as a prep to victory in the Oaks.
Other prominent stakes slated for this spring are the $300,000 Maker’s 46 Mile (G1), a one-mile race on the turf for older horses on April 12, and the $200,000 Coolmore Lexington (G3), a 1 1/16-mile race on April 20 for 3-year-olds with Triple Crown aspirations.
Spring meet enhanced by new features
A number of new features will take the “Keeneland experience” to a whole new level this spring:
Keeneland has added Katie Mikolay Gensler to its race-day lineup. She will work alongside longtime Keeneland handicapper and oddsmaker Mike Battaglia providing live paddock commentary and selections.
Betologists will be deployed around the facility on race days to answer fan questions about wagering.
On Saturdays, Keeneland’s official tailgate lot, dubbed “The Hill,” located adjacent to the Keene Barn and Entertainment Center, will feature food trucks, a jumbo television screen, wireless wagering and wagering terminals, music, and race-day programs and general admission tickets available for purchase.
On Toyota Blue Grass Day, Saturday, April 13, Keeneland will host “ABRV at The Hill.” The interactive fan experience is the latest initiative from The Jockey Club’s new cross-country fan development initiative, America’s Best Racing (ABR). The ABR tour bus, nicknamed the ABRV, and 6 brand ambassadors will bring its popular Racing 101 program to the tailgate lot.
Also on Toyota Blue Grass Day, Keeneland will offer fans the opportunity to enjoy the Keeneland Double: a day at the races followed by the University of Kentucky’s Blue-White scrimmage football game at Commonwealth Stadium. Fans can park early in the day at Commonwealth Stadium, take a Lextran bus or trolley for $1 each way to Keeneland for a day at the races and return to Commonwealth for the 7 p.m. kickoff. Lextran will have dedicated shuttles from 11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m. and 4:25 a.m.–6:45 p.m. Riders will receive a $2 food voucher to use at the track.
Special events promise fun for fans of all ages
Keeneland’s spring meet special events calendar offers something for everyone. Fans can stay current on the latest news via Keeneland.com, Twitter and Facebook. Here’s a list of highlights:
Fans 12 and under are invited to join the free Keeneland Kids Club and receive a personalized membership pass, birthday card from Buckles the mascot, discounts, invitations to exclusive Kids Club events and more. Kids can meet Buckles and register to become a member on Saturday mornings at Sunrise Trackside. Registration is also available at Keeneland.com.
On the first three Friday’s of the meet, Keeneland will host Friday Happy Hours featuring live music in the grandstand Mezzanine Bar immediately following the races.
College Scholarship Day on opening day draws thousands of students from colleges and universities in Kentucky and neighboring states. Admission is free for full-time students, who can register in the College Zone in the North Terrace to win one of ten $1,000 scholarships awarded after each of the day’s races. The first 2,000 students to register will receive a free T-shirt courtesy of Kennedy Book Store in Lexington or a hat courtesy of Vineyard Vines. Look for the new Harry’s Handicapping Zone where fans can find betting tips and a chance to win prizes. One student will win the opportunity to place a $500 bet on the feature race, the Transylvania Stakes (G3).
Sunrise Trackside offers activities for the entire family on Saturdays beginning at 7 a.m. (ET) with Breakfast With the Works, which features a Southern-style breakfast and trackside commentary on Thoroughbreds as they train (until 8:30 a.m.); children’s activities in the Kids Club Corner (7-9 a.m.); an equine-related demonstration in the paddock (8:45 a.m.); walking tours of Keeneland (8:30-10:30 a.m.); photos with legendary bugler George “Bucky” Sallee in the paddock (11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.); a trackside handicapping seminar (11:30 a.m.); and a Q&A session with a Keeneland jockey in the paddock (12:05 p.m.).
Patrons can take part in the Keeneland Handicapping Contest presented by Daily Racing Form, each Wednesday of the season. Entry fee is $10; 100% of the entry fees are returned in prizes, with the top ten handicappers qualifying for Keeneland’s Tournament of Champions in November.
Maker’s Mark bottle signing on Friday, April 12, the day of the Maker’s 46 Mile, is a fan favorite. Sales of the commemorative bottle will start April 5 at retail locations across Kentucky and benefit UK HeathCare’s Gill Heart Institute.
To raise breast cancer awareness, Keeneland will host Horses and Hope Pink Day on Sunday, April 14. Horses and Hope is First Lady Jane Beshear’s initiative to reach women working in Kentucky’s horse industry with education and mammography screening. The day includes activities in the North Terrace and the Breast Cancer Survivor Luncheon in the Keeneland Sales Pavilion.
The Budweiser Clydesdales will be at Keeneland Wednesday, April 17 through Saturday, April 20. Wednesday through Friday, fans can have their photo taken with a member of the world-famous team, which will perform between races on April 20.
Military Appreciation Day, presented by Windstream, on Sunday, April 21, will honor all active and inactive members of the military and their families with free general admission with a military ID at any pass gate. The North Terrace will be transformed into the Military Family Zone with free food, live music and special giveaways and activities for children.
On closing day join us for the Concert on the Lawn to benefit the Markey Cancer Foundation. The event, to be held on the Clubhouse Lawn immediately following the races, features a free concert by Changes in Latitudes, a premier Jimmy Buffet tribute band.
Keeneland 2013 Spring Meet At a Glance
Post time: 1:05 p.m. (ET) Gates open at 11 a.m. No racing on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Admission: $5. Children 12 and under free.
Parking: Free (shuttles available from many lots); Preferred parking: $5; Clubhouse valet: $10
“The Hill:” Official Tailgate Lot: Located adjacent to the Keene Barn and Entertainment Center. Enter Gate 1 across from Man o’ War Boulevard or via the Van Meter Road entrance.
Simulcasting: Major Thoroughbred tracks in the United States and selected international tracks.
Twitter: Follow us @keenelandracing for news, information, real-time paddock updates and expert picks.
Traffic Note: Please be aware that the Kentucky Department of Transportation is working on major improvements to Versailles Road/US 60 between New Circle Road in Fayette County and Bluegrass Parkway in Woodford County. As a result, Keeneland is urging its guests to allow extra time for their commute to the track. Click here for a map and further details.