Sixteen stakes worth a total of $3.725 million, boosted by purse increases for the Beaumont Presented by Keeneland Select (gr. II) and Elkhorn (gr. IIT), headline Keeneland's 2014 spring race meet, to be held April 4-25.
Fifteen of the 16 stakes are graded, with half contested on the turf. Five grade I stakes are slated for opening week, bookended by Keeneland's signature spring races, the $500,000 Central Bank Ashland, a 1 1/16-mile stakes for fillies on Saturday, April 5, and the $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass, a 1 1/8-mile event for 3-year-olds on Saturday, April 12.
The Ashland and Blue Grass are worth 100 points each to the winners on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) and Road to the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), respectively.
Blue Grass day's strong race card features five graded stakes, including three grade I events, worth a total of $1,625,000. Anchored by the aforementioned Blue Grass, the undercard includes the $300,000 Madison (gr. I), for older fillies and mares going seven furlongs; the $300,000 Jenny Wiley (gr. IT), for older fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on the turf; the $175,000 Commonwealth (gr. III), for older horses at seven furlongs; and the $100,000 Shakertown (gr. IIIT), for older horses at 51/2 furlongs on the turf.
This spring, purse money for both the April 13 Beaumont for 3-year-old fillies and for the closing-day Elkhorn has been increased by $50,000, raising their total value from $150,000 to $200,000 each.
"Our No. 1 goal is to provide the best racing program in the country," said Vice President of Racing W.B. Rogers Beasley in a release. "We are exceptionally proud of this schedule and the exciting racing and wagering opportunities it offers our horsemen and fans."
Because Easter Sunday falls on April 20, three stakes will be held on Saturday, April 19: the $200,000 Coolmore Lexington (gr. III), for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles and a second Keeneland prep on the Road to the Kentucky Derby; the $100,000 Giant's Causeway Stakes, for older fillies and mares going 51/2 furlongs on the grass; and the $150,000 Ben Ali (gr. III), for older horses at 1 1/8 miles. The Ben Ali traditionally has been contested on the Sunday following Coolmore Lexington Day.
The 15-day spring meeting will feature racing Wednesday through Sunday; no racing will be conducted on Easter Sunday, April 20. Post time for the first race each day is 1:05 p.m. ET.