Keeneland concluded its 17-day fall race meet Oct. 30 with gains in on-track handle and attendance. Track officials attributed the increases to good weather, competitive racing, and momentum from the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.
Total on-track attendance of 229,909 marked a 19.61 percent increase over 2009, and an average daily attendance of 13,524 compared to 11,307 last fall. The combined 2010 attendance of 468,191 (238,282 in the spring; 229,909 in the fall) represents a continuing upswing in on-track attendance, with the top three annual attendance totals having been set since 2006.
Wagering benefitted from a strong average field size—9.91 starters per race overall with 9.95 on the main track and 9.76 on the turf course.
“We’re very pleased with the fall meeting,” director of racing Rogers Beasley said. “We’ve got one of the best field sizes in the country; we had great Breeders’ Cup prep races; and we had jockeys and trainers competing here who are the best in the country.”
Keeneland’s signature FallStars Weekend produced a number of Breeders’ Cup World Championships pre-entries, including two-time Eclipse Award winner Gio Ponti, who captured the $600,000 Shadwell Turf Mile (gr. I) in preparation for either the TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. I) or Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I); Proviso (GB), winner of the $400,000 Abu Dhabi First Lady (gr. I) who will run in the TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. I); J. B.’s Thunder, a contender for the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) who captured the $400,000 Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity (gr. I), and Acoma, who won the $500,000 Juddmonte Spinster (gr. I) before heading to the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic (gr. I).
“We are thrilled with this fall meeting,” said Nick Nicholson, president and CEO of Keeneland. “We enjoyed a month of near-perfect weather; strong on-track attendance; full fields; the best jockeys in the world; three home football games for the University of Kentucky; and momentum from the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games leading into our meet. This race meet got all the breaks and these factors together contributed to a successful race meeting.”
The race for leading trainer honors went down to the final day, with Lexingtonian Kenny McPeek earning top honors with 10 wins, including the $100,000 Bourbon Stakes (gr. III) with Rogue Romance and the $150,000 JPMorgan Chase Jessamine with Kathmanblu for his second straight fall meet title. Wayne Catalano finished second with nine wins.
Jockey Julien Leparoux earned his second fall meet riding title and fifth overall (spring and fall 2006, spring 2007 and spring 2009) with 27 wins. Leparoux won five stakes during the fall – the Woodford Stakes (gr. III) on Silver Timber, the Bourbon (gr. III) on Rogue Romance, the JPMorgan Chase Jessamine on Kathmanblu, the Buffalo Trace Franklin County on Mimi’s Bling, and The Greenbrier Fayette (gr. II) with Successful Dan–for a total of 26 Keeneland stakes wins overall. Robby Albarado finished second in the standings with 19 wins, while John Velazquez finished third with 11 victories.
“It’s a great thing to win a title anywhere, but Keeneland is special,” Leparoux said. “It’s a short meet so it’s tough to win it, and we had good mounts all meet so that was good.”
George Strawbridge’s Augustin Stable won six races to take its first fall meet Keeneland title and fifth title overall, having earned honors at the 2010 (tie), 2009, 2005 (tie) and 2001 spring meetings.
In addition to winning the owner’s title, Strawbridge earned a gold tray Oct. 22 as part of Keeneland’s gold trophy program to recognize owners when Augustin’s Fugitive Angel won the Pin Oak Valley View (gr. III) for its eighth graded stakes victory at the track.
On-track wagering on live racing totaled $18,857,350, up 8.77 percent from last year’s total of $17,337,249. Combined on-track and off-track wagering on Keeneland totaled $120,859,773, a slight decrease of 1.35% from $122,525,256 in the fall 2009. Average daily all-sources handle on Keeneland was $7,109,398 compared to $7,207,368 last year.