Keeneland on Saturday closed a successful 2023 Fall Meet, which featured spectacular Thoroughbred racing from the sport’s best horses and riders, enthusiastic crowds, idyllic fall weather and a slate of popular special events to support the industry and community. They combined to produce total all-sources wagering on Keeneland racing of $201.7 million, the second-highest Fall Meet handle and fourth-highest handle in Keeneland history.
“The Fall Meet was terrific from start to finish, and we are thankful for the strong support of our participants, fans and community,” Keeneland President and CEO Shannon Arvin said. “It was rewarding to see crowds line the rail through the very last race every day, savoring all the excitement this season had to offer. And with the recent announcement of our new Paddock Building and Saddling Paddock enhancements, we look forward to offering even more unique experiences for our guests in the future.”
All-sources wagering (not including whole-card simulcasting at Keeneland) for the 17-day Fall Meet, held Oct. 6-28, totaled $201,739,442, down 3.43% from last year’s Fall Meet record of $208,907,655.
On-track wagering of $16,266,007 marked an increase of 5.96% from last year’s $15,351,232.
Fall Meet Racing Highlights
Average daily purses of $1,135,604 during the Fall Meet attracted full, competitive fields that averaged 9.1 starters per race.
This season, Keeneland offered 22 stakes worth a record $9.05 million. A total of $5.55 million was awarded during 11 stakes on opening Fall Stars Weekend, eight of which were Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series stakes that secured for the winners automatic entry into the Breeders’ Cup World Championships on Nov. 3-4 at Santa Anita.
Thirteen horses were pre-entered in the Breeders’ Cup following stakes wins at Keeneland this fall: Darley Alcibiades (G1) winner Candied (pre-entered in the NetJets Juvenile Fillies), Jessamine (G2) Presented by Keeneland November winner Buchu (Juvenile Fillies Turf), Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix (G2) winner Hoist the Gold (Qatar Racing Sprint), Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (G1) winner Locked (FanDuel Juvenile), Coolmore Turf Mile (G1) winner Up to the Mark (Turf/ FanDuel Mile), First Lady (G1) Presented by UK HealthCare winner Gina Romantica (FanDuel Mile/Maker’s Mark Filly and Mare Turf), Thoroughbred Club of America (G2) winner Yuugiri (PNC Bank Filly and Mare Sprint), Woodford (G2) Presented by FanDuel winner Arzak (Turf Sprint), Juddmonte Spinster (G1) winner Idiomatic (Distaff), Castle & Key Bourbon (G2) winner Can Group (Prevagen Juvenile Turf), Indian Summer (L) Presented by Keeneland Select winner Committee of One (Juvenile Turf Sprint), Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) Presented by Dixiana winner Mawj (IRE) (Mile) and Franklin (G2) winner Tony Ann (Turf Sprint).
“We’re blessed to have North America’s top jockeys and trainers compete here, and this fall was made even more special by the participation of such international stars as trainer Saeed bin Suroor and jockeys Jamie Spencer and Oisin Murphy,” Keeneland Vice President of Racing Gatewood Bell said. “The level of talent of horses, trainers and riders makes Keeneland a destination for the best in racing.”
In other highlights, jockey Corey Lanerie recorded the 5,000th victory of his career on Oct. 18 to become the 38th North American rider to reach the milestone. A longtime regular on the Kentucky circuit, Lanerie is Keeneland’s sixth-leading rider of all time by wins (276).
Owner Peter Brant scored an exacta in the First Lady Presented by UK HealthCare as Gina Romantica collared defending champion and stablemate In Italian (GB) in deep stretch to win by a head. Brant recorded his third consecutive First Lady win for his eighth graded stakes victory overall here, earning for him a Keeneland Tray as part of the track’s signature Milestone Trophy Program.
Fall Meet Leaders
Jockeys Tyler Gaffalione and Luis Saez, who finished 1-2 in the rider standings during this year’s Spring Meet, resumed their battle for top honors this fall. Gaffalione secured the lead on closing day for his fourth Fall Meet title and seventh overall. Among Gaffalione’s 25 wins were three stakes victories: the First Lady Presented by UK HealthCare with Gina Romantica, the Hagyard Fayette (G2) with O’Connor (CHI) and the Myrtlewood with Youalmosthadme. He also posted a four-win day and two three-win days.
Saez finished second in the standings with 20 wins, including the Darley Alcibiades with Candied, the Perryville (L) with Raise Cain and the Bowman Mill with Glengarry.
Brad Cox scored three wins on Thursday, Oct. 26 to extend his lead in the final days of the meet and earn his fourth consecutive Fall Meet training title and fifth overall. Headlining his 13 wins were victories in the Juddmonte Spinster with Idiomatic and Myrtlewood with Youalmosthadme.
Chad Brown vaulted into second place with two wins on Oct. 27, including the Bank of America Valley View (G3) with Surge Capacity. He finished the meet with seven wins, saddling Gina Romantica and In Italian to run 1-2 in the First Lady Presented by UK HealthCare.
Four trainers – Steve Asmussen, Chris Hartman, Todd Pletcher and Brendan Walsh – tied for third with six wins each. Pletcher won three stakes during the meet: the Darley Alcibiades with Candied, the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity with Locked and the Coolmore Turf Mile with Up to the Mark. Asmussen won the Indian Summer with Committee of One.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s Godolphin and Richard Rigney’s Rigney Racing tied for leading owner with four wins each. Godolphin captured its fourth leading owner title, boosted by wins in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Presented by Dixiana with Mawj (IRE) and the Sycamore (G3) with Bold Act (IRE). It is the first Keeneland owner title for Rigney Racing, who counted among its wins the Jessamine Presented by Keeneland November with Buchu.
Fall Meet Special Events Combine Philanthropy and Fun
This fall, Keeneland teamed with corporate and ahorse industry partners to offer special events that further the track’s mission to support the Central Kentucky community and the sport.
Highlighting the philanthropic initiatives were:
- On Oct. 12, Keeneland celebrated its 16th Make-A-Wish Day, teaming with local Thoroughbred farms and organizations to grant wishes for 13 children, who with their families took part in a VIP race-day experience.
- The next day, Keeneland hosted a record 3,363 students for College Scholarship Day Presented by Lane’s End. Five thousand full-time college students registered to win one of 10 $2,000 scholarships provided by Keeneland and the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association and one of two $10,000 scholarships provided by Lane’s End.
- Keeneland offered programming for families and fun, equine-related activities for kids during Sunrise Trackside each Saturday morning during the meet and on Kids Club Family Day Presented by Kentucky Children’s Hospital on Oct. 15.
- Keeneland hosted the annual Thoroughbred Industry Employee Awards, sponsored by Godolphin, on Oct. 17. These awards recognize and reward the outstanding talent, diligence and commitment of the farm and racing stable staff who are at the heart of the Thoroughbred industry.
- Keeneland recognized the 40th anniversary of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation (TRF), a pioneer in the aftercare of retired racehorses, with “TRF Cheers to 40 Years Day” on Oct. 20. Keeneland made a $4,000 contribution to the TRF, a nonprofit that operates three farms in Kentucky and cares for 70 horses.
- Heroes Day on Oct. 22 honored members of the military, first responders, law enforcement, EMTs and health care workers and their families with free general admission, lunch provided by City BBQ, a spectacular flag unfurling on the main track and special recognitions and remembrances throughout the day. Keeneland donated $5,000 to the Kentucky Law Enforcement Memorial Foundation.
- Members of the Keeneland jockey colony joined retired riders for an autograph session on Oct. 27 that raised $5,807 for the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF).
- On closing day, Keeneland honored teachers, educators and staff with free admission as part of Teacher Appreciation Day. Through partnerships with Coca-Cola and UPS, prize giveaways and complimentary drinks were provided. In support of Teacher Appreciation Day, Keeneland connected with Student Support Services in Fayette County Public Schools to help support the needs of families and children in Fayette Country.
- During the meet, Keeneland partnered with race sponsors to support horse industry and community initiatives. Keeneland and Juddmonte donated $10,000 to the Kentucky Equine Management Internship program, which provides opportunities to college students interested in careers in equine management. Keeneland and Lexus of Lexington donated $5,000 to the MAP Foundation to benefit the Woodhill Community Center.
- Keeneland and Country Boy Brewing of Lexington again teamed to produce Keeneland Pale Ale. Country Boy Brewing, Kentucky Eagle and other distributor partners donated $1 per case to Blue Grass Farms Charities (BGFC) to support its Back-to-School Backpack Program, which provides school supplies for nearly 1,000 children whose parents work in Keeneland’s stable area and on Central Kentucky farms.
- In celebration of Secretariat’s enduring legacy, Keeneland hosted the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame’s traveling exhibition, “A Tremendous Machine: Celebrating the 50thAnniversary of Secretariat’s Triple Crown,” during the final week of the meet.
2023 Fall Meet at a Glance (Oct. 6-28)
|All-Sources Handle on Keeneland
|Avg. Daily All-Sources Handle on Keeneland
|Total On-Track Handle
|Avg. Daily On-Track Handle