$750,000 Toyota Blue Grass, new special events, enhanced technology highlight season
Lexington, KY (March 28, 2014) – Keeneland kicks off its 2014 Spring Meet on Friday, April 4, marking the start of 15 days of extraordinary racing featuring North America’s top stables and riders and headlined by the 90th running of the $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass (G1), a prominent prep for contenders pointing toward 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 25.
Keeneland will conduct racing on Wednesday through Sunday with post time for the first race each day at 1:05 p.m. (ET) except for Toyota Blue Grass Day, Saturday, April 12, when first post is 12:35 p.m. There will be no live racing on Easter Sunday, April 20.
Racing will be featured on the cable network TVG beginning at 1 p.m. each race day. Fans can also 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 race track in America. The nation’s top jockeys, trainers and owners compete for some of the country’s richest purse money. The Spring Meet features 16 stakes, including five Grade 1 events, worth a total of $3.775 million.
The track’s ultra-competitive jockey colony is set to include Joel Rosario, who set a Spring Meet record with 38 victories in 2013, and 2013 Eclipse Award winner Javier Castellano, who currently leads North America in victories and set a single-season earnings record in 2013 with more than $26.2 million.
Keeneland’s signature race, the Toyota Blue Grass, is worth 100 points to the winner on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.Keeneland, in collaboration with The Jockey Club and FOX Sports 1, will provide live coverage of the race on Saturday, April 12, from 4:30–6 p.m. ET as part of the The Jockey Club Tour on FOX series.
The Toyota Blue Grass, a 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds, has been the springboard for 19 horses that have gone on to win the Kentucky Derby. The race helped draw 37,161 fans to the track on April 13, 2013, marking the second-largest crowd in Keeneland history, while the all-sources mutuel handle exceeded $21.1 million, the second-highest total ever for a Keeneland race day.
The $500,000 Central Bank Ashland, for 3-year-old fillies racing 1 1/16 miles, will be held opening Saturday, April 5. The Central Bank Ashland is a major steppingstone on the Road to the Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1), awarding 100 points to the winner as part of the 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 11, and the $200,000 Coolmore Lexington (G3), a 1 1/16-mile race on April 19 for 3-year-olds with Triple Crown aspirations.
I Love Keeneland
To honor its great racing fans, Keeneland’s Spring Meet theme is “I Love Keeneland,” a fan-driven campaign that uses social media to display photos taken by Keeneland patrons. Fans can submit their photos to Keeneland’s Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts with the hashtag #ILoveKeeneland and might see their images featured on social media and atKeeneland.com/ILoveKeeneland.
New Features Enhance Spring Meet
Keeneland’s commitment to developing cutting-edge ways to expand and enhance fan education continues to present unique learning opportunities for patrons. Programs offer a variety of wagering, technological and grassroots avenues for any level of fan who wants to learn more about the races:
BETologists: The popular BETologists return with an expanded presence throughout Keeneland, offering information to novice and expert fans alike. Decked out in unique vintage-looking outfits, BETologists mingle with the crowd everywhere from The Hill, the free tailgating area, to the track apron, Grandstand and Clubhouse dining rooms. A new video series, Basics of BETology, will be featured on Keeneland.com to help promote fan education.
Wagering Central: Patrons will also find BETologists at Wagering Central, the hub for all things wagering. Located on the first floor Grandstand, Wagering Central is the place for patrons to find answers to basic betting questions, pick up free daily selections and receive help with registering for Keeneland Select or learning how to bet from their mobile devices.
Keeneland Race-Day App: The popular mobile app was unveiled last fall, providing fans with up-to-the-minute information at their fingertips. The app now allows access to entries, scratches, changes, real-time odds and results, will-pays, expert picks and a betting calculator.
The app also includes a GPS-enabled interactive map to help patrons navigate Keeneland and share their location with friends, and an events calendar of all the happenings at the track. Fans can find more information on the app atKeeneland.com/racing/app.
On Fridays and Saturdays, The Hill, Keeneland’s official tailgate lot located adjacent to the Keene Barn & Entertainment Center, will feature food trucks, a jumbo television screen, wireless wagering and wagering terminals, race-day programs, a Keeneland Gift Shop kiosk and free shuttles to the track. On Saturdays, fans can enjoy live bluegrass music. BETologists will also be available to answer fans’ questions.
Additional upgrades: Keeneland has installed new, large-screen LED video boards in the North Terrace and near the Paddock to give fans a sharper, higher-quality viewing experience. Flat-screen TVs have been added at several locations throughout the facility. The lower Clubhouse has also been renovated and a new high-stakes wagering area, The Green Room, opens this spring and features a state-of-the-art video wall, upscale furnishings, and access to reserved seats on the finish line.
Last fall, Keeneland introduced its Keeneland Cares initiative, with the goal to provide the highest-quality customer service to every guest it hosts during the race meet. Among the amenities are expanded hospitality and concierge staffing at the gates, on-track Hospitality team members, and opportunities for patrons to submit comments and feedback online. These features are yet another step Keeneland has undertaken to ensure fans enjoy a unique, memorable racing experience.
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 viaKeeneland.com, Twitter and Facebook. Here’s a list of highlights:
College Scholarship Day on Friday, April 4, draws thousands of students from colleges and universities in Kentucky and neighboring states. Admission is free with a college ID. Full-time students can register in the College Zone in the North Terrace to win one of ten $1,000 scholarships and prizes from local vendors will be awarded after each of the day’s races. The first 2,000 students to register will receive a free T-shirt courtesy of Kennedy’s Wildcat Den or a Vineyard Vines baseball hat. In the College Zone, students can enjoy music; free snacks from Qdoba, Raising Cane’s and Drake’s; photos by TOPS in Lex; and games and prizes from Orange Leaf. Students can also register for the Drake’s Handicapping Challenge; one student will win the opportunity to place a $500 bet on the feature race, the $100,000 Transylvania (G3).
Sunrise Trackside sponsored by LEX18, the Lexington Herald-Leader and Dunkin’ Donuts offers activities for all ages beginning at 7 a.m. (ET). Fans can enjoy Breakfast With the Works, a Southern-style breakfast and trackside commentary during the morning workouts (until 8:30 a.m.); children’s activities in the Kids Club Corner (7-9 a.m.); an equine-related demonstration in the Paddock (9 a.m.); guided walking tours of Keeneland (8-10 a.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.). Keeneland Bugler Steve Buttleman will also be on hand to take photos with fans. On Saturday, April 19, the Kids Club will also host an Easter Egg Hunt on the North Terrace Lawn at 9 a.m. along with an opportunity for children to meet baby chicks, bunnies and other animals from Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill.
Military Day at the Races, presented by Marathon, on Sunday, April 6, Keeneland 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, children’s activities and more. Keeneland will welcome a special guest, U.S. Army Sgt. Dallas Robinson, for a meet and greet with fans. Robinson, a Kentuckian, was a member of the 2014 U.S. Olympic Bobsled Team that competed in Sochi, Russia.
Patrons can take part in the WINS-day Challenge, a handicapping contest presented by Malone’s, each Wednesday of the meet. At Wagering Central, contestants can sign up to play for a $10 entry fee, then they place a mythical $2 win and place wager on Keeneland Races 3 through 8. The contest offers a guaranteed $2,500 pool, and the first 200 participants receive a free Daily Racing Form and a card for an appetizer at Malone’s. The first-, second- and third-place finishers receive cash prizes and a gift card from Malone’s
The Craft Beer Tent returns on the North Terrace patio. The special selection of craft beers will be featured on Fridays – excluding April 4 – and Saturdays during the meet and include Country Boy, Kentucky Ale, Land Shark, Shock Top, Sierra Nevada and Sweetwater.
To raise breast cancer awareness, Keeneland will host the annual Horses and Hope Pink Day on Sunday, April 13. Horses and Hope is First Lady Jane Beshear’s initiative to reach women working in Kentucky’s horse industry with education and mammography screening. In conjunction with the day’s festivities, Keeneland will honor “Ladies of the Turf,” with nearly 30 retired and active female jockeys, including those who were first allowed to ride in 1969 and some of the most accomplished members of their profession. The women also will sign a commemorative fundraising poster created by horse racing cartoonist Peb. Fans are encouraged to wear pink to the track to raise breast cancer awareness and interact with the jockeys during the day’s events.
Mine That Bird’s implausible journey to victory in the 2009 Kentucky Derby is documented in the feature-length film “50 to 1,” and the accompanying “50 to 1” Movie Tour will be at Keeneland on Friday, April 18. In the evening, the movie premiers in Lexington, the final stop on a 1,700-mile trek that began at Sunland Park near El Paso, Texas. The day’s activities will include an appearance by Mine That Bird and a fan meet and greet with actors from the movie.
Race fans are invited to the It’s My Derby event on Friday, April 18, in the Keeneland Sales Pavilion to rub elbows with some of Thoroughbred racing’s most recognizable people. The fundraiser will feature a panel discussion and VIP reception with 2013 Kentucky Derby winner Orb’s co-owner and breeder Stuart Janney and trainer, Shug McGaughey, as well as trainer Barclay Tagg, winner of the 2003 Derby and Preakness with Funny Cide, and two-time Derby-winning jockey Chris McCarron. Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas will moderate the panel. Proceeds benefit the Kentucky Derby Museum.
On closing day, the Concert on the Lawn presented by Dixiana Farms will benefit the Markey Cancer Center. The event, to be held on the Clubhouse Lawn immediately following the races, features a free concert by Lexington’s own Laura Bell Bundy and Sundy Best.
Keeneland 2014 Spring Meet At a Glance
Post time: 1:05 p.m. (ET) Gates open at 11 a.m., except on Saturday, April 12, when first post if 12:35 p.m. No racing on Mondays and Tuesdays or on Easter Sunday, April 20.
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 & Entertainment Center. Enter Gate 1 across from Man o’ War Boulevard or via the Van Meter Road entrance.
Simulcasting: Major Thoroughbred tracks in the U.S.
Twitter: Follow us @keenelandracing for news, information, real-time Paddock updates and expert picks.