Anne M. Eberhardt

Blue Grass, Special Events Top Keeneland Meet

The stand, which opens April 5, includes 16 stakes, five of which are grade I.

The $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) April 13 is one of 16 stakes that will highlight the 16-day Keeneland meet that begins April 5. In addition to its lucrative stakes and purses. Keeneland will also host a number of special events during the meet.

Keeneland will conduct racing on Wednesday through Sunday with the post time for the first race each day at 1:05 p.m. (EDT). TVG will broadcast the meet daily and the races can be viewed on Keeneland's website at no charge.

The stakes schedule, including five grade I races, is worth a total of $3.625 million. A purse increase also will add more than $627,000 to the overnight pool, raising Keeneland's average daily purses to at least $611,250, among the highest in North America.

The Blue Grass will air on the NBC network from 4:30-6 p.m. The 90-minute broadcast is part of the recently announced "Road to the Kentucky Derby" series spotlighting six major prep races for the 2013 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), with 100 Derby points awarded the winner.

Keeneland will also run the $300,000 Madison Stakes (gr. I) April 13, joining the $300,000 Jenny Wiley (gr. IT) for older fillies and mares, and the $175,000 Commonwealth and $100,000 Shakertown, both grade III stakes for older horses, on the Blue Grass Day undercard.

The $500,000 Central Bank Ashland Stakes (gr. I), for 3-year-old fillies racing 1 1/16 miles, will be renewed April 6. The Ashland is a major steppingstone on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I), awarding 100 points to the winner as part of the new point system. Other prominent stakes slated for this spring are the $300,000 Maker's 46 Mile (gr. IT), a one-mile race on the turf for older horses April 12, and the $200,000 Coolmore Lexington (gr. III), a 1 1/16-mile race April 20 for 3-year-olds.

Other features and events during the meet are:

Addition of Katie Mikolay Gensler to  provide live paddock commentary and selections.

"Betologists," who will be deployed around the facility on race days to answer fan questions about wagering.

On Saturdays, Keeneland's official tailgate lot, dubbed "The Hill," located adjacent to the Keene Barn and Entertainment Center, will feature food trucks, a jumbo television screen, wireless wagering and wagering terminals, music, with race-day programs and general admission tickets available for purchase.

On Toyota Blue Grass Day, Keeneland will host "ABRV at The Hill." The interactive fan experience is the latest initiative from The Jockey Club's new cross-country fan development initiative, America's Best Racing.

Also on Toyota Blue Grass Day, Keeneland will offer fans the opportunity to experience the Keeneland Double: a day at the races followed by the University of Kentucky's Blue-White scrimmage football game at Commonwealth Stadium. Fans can park early in the day at Commonwealth Stadium, take a Lextran bus or trolley for $1 each way to Keeneland for a day at the races and return to Commonwealth for the 7 p.m. kickoff. Lextran will have dedicated shuttles from 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 4:25 a.m.-6:45 p.m. Riders will receive a $2 food voucher to use at the track.

Patrons age 12 and under can join the free Keeneland Kids Club and receive a personalized membership pass, birthday card from Buckles the mascot, discounts, invitations to exclusive Kids Club events and more.

On the first three Friday's of the meet, Keeneland will host "Friday Happy Hours," featuring live music in the grandstand Mezzanine Bar immediately following the races.

College Scholarship Day on opening day, with free admission for full-time students. Ten $1,000 scholarships will be awarded after each of the day's races.

Sunrise Trackside offers activities for the entire family on Saturdays beginning at 7 a.m. with Breakfast With the Works.

Keeneland Handicapping Contest each Wednesday of the season. Entry fee is $10; 100% of the entry fees are returned in prizes, with the top ten handicappers qualifying for Keeneland's Tournament of Champions in November. 

Maker's Mark bottle signing on Friday, April 12, the day of the Maker's 46 Mile. Sales of the commemorative bottle will start April 5 at retail locations across Kentucky and benefit UK HeathCare's Gill Heart Institute.

Horses and Hope Pink Day on Sunday, April 14 to raise awareness of breast cancer. The day includes activities in the North Terrace and the Breast Cancer Survivor Luncheon in the Keeneland Sales Pavilion.

Budweiser Clydesdales will be at Keeneland Wednesday, April 17 through Saturday, April 20. Wednesday through Friday, fans can have their photo taken with a member of the team which will perform between races on April 20.

Military Appreciation Day, on Sunday, April 21, will honor all active and inactive members of the military and their families with free general admission with a military ID at any pass gate. The North Terrace will be transformed into the Military Family Zone with free food, live music and special giveaways and activities for children.

Concert on the Lawn on closing day will benefit the Markey Cancer Foundation. The event, to be held on the clubhouse lawn immediately following the races, features a free concert by Changes in Latitudes, a premier Jimmy Buffet tribute band.