Keeneland has scheduled 16 stakes worth $3.65 million for its 2010 spring race meet, highlighted by its signature $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass (gr. I) and $400,000 Central Bank Ashland Stakes (gr. I), showcasing 3-year-old colts and fillies, respectively. There are some minor purse and sponsorship changes for the meet.
The spring meet will be held April 2-23, featuring racing Wednesdays through Sundays. No racing will be held on Easter, April 4.
Keeneland will offer average daily purses of more than $600,000. All but one of the 16 spring stakes are graded and include four grade I events – the 1 1/16-mile Ashland April 3; the $300,000 Vinery Madison, for older fillies and mares at seven furlongs April 8, and the Maker’s Mark Mile, for 4-year-olds and up on the turf April 9. Opening week culminates with the 1 1/8-mile Blue Grass on April 10.
The Blue Grass serves as a prep for the grade I Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands. Most recently, James Tafel’s champion Street Sense made his final start prior to his 2007 Kentucky Derby win in the Blue Grass, finishing second by a nose to Dominican.
This year, the Blue Grass will air live on NBC as part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby, a new series created in partnership with Churchill Downs.
“Keeneland continually strives to offer racing at the highest level, and the tremendous support of our horsemen and fans make that possible,” said director of racing Rogers Beasley.
The Blue Grass day undercard will feature three other graded stakes – the $250,000 Commonwealth (gr. II) for 3-year-olds and up over seven furlongs, which is part of the Breeders’ Cup series; the $200,000 Jenny Wiley (gr. II) for older fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on the turf; and the $100,000 Shakertown (gr. III) for 3-year-olds and up at five and a half furlongs on the turf.
Keeneland hosts an additional classic prep, the $300,000 Coolmore Lexington (gr. II), for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles April 17.
This is the first year the Ashland is sponsored by Central Bank. The race is a prep for the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I). Since 1936, 31 fillies have used the Ashland as a steppingstone to victory in the Oaks, the most recent being champion Proud Spell, who won the 2008 Oaks off a third-place finish in the Ashland.
In other changes, the purse for the opening day Transylvania (gr. III), previously sponsored by Central Bank, has been reduced from $150,000 to $100,000. Additionally, the Fort Harrod Stakes was not renewed for this season.