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Keeneland’s 2024 Spring Meet Stakes Schedule Features  100th Running of Grade 1, $1 Million Toyota Blue Grass

Keeneland will award a season record $8.1 million for 19 stakes and celebrate the 100th running of the $1 million Toyota Blue Grass (G1) during its 2024 Spring Meet, which will cover 16 days from April 5-26. Other Grade 1 races during the meet – an early season showcase of talented Thoroughbreds representing leading owners, trainers and jockeys – are the Central Bank Ashland, the Madison, the Maker’s Mark Mile and the Jenny Wiley – each worth $600,000 apiece. 

Contributing to the Spring Meet stakes purses is a total of $1.5 million available from the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund (KTDF), pending approval from the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. 

“Lucrative purses and outstanding competition make Keeneland’s Spring Meet a highlight of the racing calendar for horsemen, horseplayers and fans during the first half of the year,” Keeneland Vice President of Racing Gatewood Bell said. “We look forward to hosting the country’s best horses and their connections here in April.” 

Milestone for Toyota Blue Grass

The Toyota Blue Grass, an iconic springtime fixture for 3-year-olds, has been held at Keeneland since the track’s first Spring Meet in April 1937. Scheduled on the first Saturday of the season, the 
1 1/8-mile race was inaugurated in 1911 at the Kentucky Association track located near downtown Lexington and was run there through 1914 and again from 1919 to 1926. 

Following the closure of the Kentucky Association track, the Blue Grass was continued at Keeneland and has been won by such Racing Hall of Famers as Bimelech (1940), Coaltown (1948), Round Table (1957), Northern Dancer (1964), Arts and Letters (1969), Riva Ridge (1972), Alydar (1978), Spectacular Bid (1979), Holy Bull (1994) and Skip Away (1996). 

Toyota began to sponsor the Blue Grass in 1996. The purse of the race was $1 million in 2015-2019 and returned to seven figures in 2022.

Central Bank Ashland opens season

The first day of next year’s Spring Meet features three stakes for 3-year-olds anchored by the 86thrunning of the Central Bank Ashland, an early season objective for top sophomore fillies at 1 1/16 miles. The day features two other stakes each worth $400,000: the Transylvania (G3), at 1 1/16 miles on the turf, and the Lafayette, a 7-furlong dirt race.

This marks the 20th running of a Keeneland stakes sponsored by Central Bank, which sponsored the Transylvania from 2005-2009 and began sponsoring the Ashland in 2010.

The Toyota Blue Grass leads five stakes on the first Saturday of the season. Also on the card are the $600,000 Madison (G1), for fillies and mares at 7 furlongs on the dirt; the $400,000 Appalachian (G2) Presented by Japan Racing Association, for 3-year-old fillies at 1 mile on the grass; the $350,000 Shakertown (G2), for 3-year-olds and up at 5½ furlongs on the turf; and the $300,000 Commonwealth (G3), for older horses at 7 furlongs on the dirt.

In addition to being signature Spring Meet stakes, the Toyota Blue Grass and the Central Bank Ashland are prominent on the national racing calendar. Both stakes are worth 100 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby and Road to the Kentucky Oaks, respectively, with the winners of each stakes earning 50 qualifying points to the respective classic.

The early nomination deadline for the two races is Feb. 17. Late nominations are due March 20.

Giant’s Causeway upgraded for 2024

Stakes action for 3-year-olds will continue Sunday of opening weekend with the $400,000 Beaumont (G2) Presented by Keeneland Select, at 7 furlongs, 184 feet, on the dirt for fillies, and the $250,000 Palisades, at 5½ furlongs on the grass. 

On Friday, April 12, Keeneland will run two turf stakes: the $600,000 Maker’s Mark Mile (G1), for 4-year-olds and up at 1 mile, and the $250,000 FanDuel Limestone, for 3-year-old fillies going 5½ furlongs.

Three stakes the following day are the $600,000 Jenny Wiley (G1), a 1 1/16-mile turf race for fillies and mares; the $400,000 Stonestreet Lexington (G3), for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles; and the $300,000 Giant’s Causeway (G3), a 5½-furlong turf race for fillies and mares.

For 2024, the Giant’s Causeway was upgraded to a Grade 3 event after being a listed stakes since 2006. Keeneland also increased the purse of the race by $50,000.

The Stonestreet Lexington, which is the final prep on this year’s Road to the Kentucky Derby, will award 20 Derby qualifying points. Of those, 10 points will go to the winner.

On the final days of the Spring Meet, Keeneland will run four graded stakes for older horses. The $300,000 Baird Doubledogdare (G3), for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on the dirt, will be held Friday, April 19. Two stakes on Saturday, April 20 are the $350,000 Elkhorn (G2), at 1½ miles on the turf, and the $300,000 Ben Ali (G3), at 1 3/16 miles on the dirt.

Keeneland will bridge the gap between racing and auctions on closing day, Friday, April 26. The race card will feature the $300,000 Bewitch (G3), for fillies and mares at 1½ miles on the turf.

Following the races, Keeneland will hold the April Selected Horses of Racing Age Sale.

Keeneland 2024 Spring Meet Stakes Schedule

DateStakesKTDF* Contribution to PurseDivisionDistance
April 5$600,000 Central Bank Ashland (G1)$100,0003YO Fillies1 1/16 Miles
April 5$400,000 Transylvania (G3)$100,0003YOs1 1/16 Miles (T)
April 5$400,000 Lafayette$100,0003YOs7 Furlongs
April 6$1 Million Toyota Blue Grass (G1)$150,0003YOs 1 1/8 Miles
April 6$600,000 Madison (G1)  $100,0004YOs & Up, F&M7 Furlongs
April 6$400,000 Appalachian (G2) Presented by Japan Racing Association$100,0003YO Fillies1 Mile (T)
April 6$350,000 Shakertown (G2)$50,0003YOs & Up5½ Furlongs (T)
April 6$300,000 Commonwealth (G3)$50,0004YO & Up7 Furlongs
April 7$400,000 Beaumont (G2) Presented by Keeneland Select$100,0003YO Fillies7 Furlongs, 184’
April 7$250,000 Palisades (L)$50,0003YO5½ Furlongs (T)
April 12$600,000 Maker’s Mark Mile (G1)$100,0004YOs & Up1 Mile (T)
April 12$250,000 FanDuel Limestone (L)$50,0003YO Fillies5½ Furlongs (T)
April 13$600,000 Jenny Wiley (G1) $100,0004YOs & Up, F&M1 1/16 Miles (T) 
April 13$400,000 Stonestreet Lexington (G3)$100,0003YOs 1 1/16 Miles 
April 13$300,000 Giant’s Causeway (G3)$50,0003YOs & Up, F&M5½ Furlongs (T)
April 19$300,000 Baird Doubledogdare (G3) $50,0004YOs & Up, F&M 1 1/16 Miles 
April 20$350,000 Elkhorn (G2)$50,0004YOs & Up1½ Miles (T)
April 20$300,000 Ben Ali (G3)$50,0004YOs & Up1 3/16 Miles
April 26 $300,000 Bewitch (G3)$50,0004YOs & Up, F&M1½ Miles (T)

*Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund. All KTDF purse allotments are subject to approval of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.