Keeneland Reports Robust Spring Meet Results

Keeneland Reports Robust Spring Meet Results
Photo: Keeneland Photo
Norman Casse (son of leading trainer Mark Casse), Keeneland President & CEO Bill Thomason, and leading jockey Julien Leparoux and wife Shea

The Keeneland spring meet closed April 25 with a record 15-day meet attendance and gains in on-track wagering.

On-track attendance for the stand, held April 4-25, totaled 270,093, besting the previous 15-day meet record of 269,292 posted at the 2012 spring meet. It was just behind last spring's record 278,415 over 16 days of racing.

Average daily attendance of 18,006 is the highest ever recorded at Keeneland, and eclipses the previous record of 17,953, also set during spring 2012.

Keeneland hosted its second-largest crowd April 12, when 39,722 people attended the Toyota Blue Grass (gr. I) program. A week later, it received its fourth largest when 34,933 were on hand for Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. III).

"Keeneland has the best fans in the world, and we are very grateful for their support," said track president and CEO Bill Thomason. "Their passion for Keeneland and appreciation of quality racing creates an energy that makes this a truly special place."

The large crowds generated total on-track handle of $18,931,643, up slightly from $18,890,584 in 2013. Average daily on-track handle rose 7% from $1,180,662 to $1,262,110.

Wagering by patrons via Keeneland Select, the track's advance deposit wagering platform, also realized significant growth over last year. Registrations increased 41% over a year ago, while handle was up 15%.

All-sources wagering on Keeneland totaled $138,033,442 compared to $158,640,589 last spring.

Purses for the 15-day meet continued to rank among the nation's highest, averaging $549,937 compared to $512,336 last year.

In his first full season riding at Keeneland since 2012, jockey Julien Leparoux dominated the riding standings with 19 wins despite a closing-day run of three consecutive wins by newcomer Stewart Elliott, who finished second with 15. 

Leparoux's total included a three-win day April 4, to claim his 10th Keeneland riding title and tie Hall of Famer Steve Brooks for third place in terms of number of meet wins. He has earned six spring titles (2006-2007, 2009, 2011-2012, 2014) and four fall titles (2006, 2010-2012). A two-time Eclipse Award recipient, Leparoux has won 345 Keeneland races, including 40 stakes, to rank fifth among all riders in terms of most wins and most stakes win at the track.

"It's good to be back in Kentucky and to get the title here against a lot of very good jockeys," Leparoux said. "It's always a tough meet in April here, so good to be on top for sure."

The race for leading trainer honors went down to the wire, with Mark Casse scoring two wins on closing day to pull away from Ken McPeek and Wesley Ward and secure his first Keeneland training title. A multiple Sovereign Award winner in Canada, Casse won 11 races this spring, including the Hilliard Lyons Doubledogdare (gr. III) with Sisterly Love.

McPeek won nine races to place second, while Ward finished third with eight wins.

John C. Oxley won five races and earned his fourth title as leading owner. He previously topped the rankings in the Fall 1991 (tie), Spring 1995 (tie) and Fall 2000.

Meet Figures at a Glance (Through Friday, April 25)
 
Spring 2014
Spring 2013

%  Change

All-Sources Handle on Keeneland

$138,033,442

$158,640,589

-12.99%

Avg. Daily All-Sources Handle on Keeneland

$9,202,229

$9,915,037

-7.19%

Total On-Track Handle

$18,931,643

$18,890,584

+0.22

Avg. Daily On-Track Handle

$1,262,110

$1,180,662

+6.90%

Total Attendance

270,093

278,415

-2.99%

Avg. Daily Attendance

18,006

17,401

+3.48

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