Five grade I races, including the newly upgraded Jenny Wiley Stakes, headline the 16 stakes worth $3.625 million slated for Keeneland’s 2012 spring race meeting that was announced Jan. 19.
The 15-day spring meeting will be held April 6-27 in Lexington.
All five grade I races will be featured opening week, bookended by Keeneland’s signature classic preps, the Central Bank Ashland, a 1 1/16-mile stakes for 3-year-old fillies on April 7, and the $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass, a 1 1/8-mile event for 3-year-old colts, scheduled for April 14. The Ashland now carries a purse of $500,000, elevated from $400,000 in 2011.
Handicap horses will take the spotlight in the $300,000 Vinery Madison Stakes (gr. I) for fillies and mares going seven furlongs April 12, and the $300,000 Maker’s 46 Mile (gr. IT) for older horses at a mile on the turf on April 13. Formerly known as the Maker’s Mark Mile, the stakes has been renamed in honor of Maker’s new product.
Three other graded stakes will form a strong undercard on Toyota Blue Grass Day, including the Jenny Wiley for older fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on the turf. The Jenny Wiley was promoted to grade I status this year by the American Graded Stakes Committee and received a purse hike to $300,000.
“The racing world converges at Keeneland in the spring, and we are proud that our stakes schedule will once again provide lucrative opportunities for horsemen and exciting wagering options for our fans,” said Keeneland vice president of racing W.B. Rogers Beasley. “The elevation of the Jenny Wiley to grade I status, and purse increases for both it and the Central Bank Ashland are very positive steps. We continue to pursue initiatives to grow our racing program in order to remain competitive in today’s very challenging environment.”
Rounding out Toyota Blue Grass Day are two sprint stakes for 3-year-olds and up–the $175,000 Commonwealth Stakes (gr. II) at seven furlongs and the $100,000 Shakertown Stakes (gr. IIIT) at 51/2 furlongs on the turf.
Keeneland will also host the $200,000 Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. III) for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles on April 21.
The complete 2012 spring stakes schedule is as follows:
April 6 $100,000 Transylvania (gr. IIIT)
April 7 $500,000 Central Bank Ashland (gr. I)
April 12 $300,000 Vinery Madison (gr. I)
April 13 $300,000 Maker’s 46 Mile (Gr. IT)
April 14 $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass (gr. I)
April 14 $300,000 Jenny Wiley (gr. IT)
April 14 $175,000 Commonwealth (gr. II)
April 14 $100,000 Shakertown (gr. IIIT)
April 15 $150,000 Beaumont (gr. II)
April 19 $100,000 Appalachian (gr. IIIT)
April 20 $100,000 Hilliard Lyons Doubledogdare (gr. III)
April 21 $200,000 Coolmore Lexington (gr. III)
April 21 $100,000 Giant’s Causeway (L)
April 22 $150,000 Ben Ali (gr. III)
April 26 $150,000 Grey Goose Bewitch (gr. IIIT)
April 27 $150,000 Elkhorn (gr. IIT)