Keeneland sees record attendance, gains in all-sources handle during fall meet

Keeneland concluded its 2012 fall race meeting Saturday with strong gains in all-sources handle and a fall meet attendance record while featuring outstanding Thoroughbred racing

Keeneland concluded its 2012 fall race meeting Saturday with strong gains in all-sources handle and a fall meet attendance record while featuring outstanding Thoroughbred racing.

The 17-day season kicked off with Fall Stars Weekend, which showcased a number of Breeders' Cup contenders, including Horse of the Year candidate Wise Dan, winner of the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile on October 6.

Buoyed by large field sizes and quality racing, all-sources wagering on Keeneland totaled $137,981,281, an increase of 7.35 percent compared to $128,533,933 in 2011.

Keeneland set a record for fall meet attendance with 259,710, for an average of 15,277 per day. The previous fall meet record was set last year during Keeneland's 75th anniversary celebration that drew 250,163 for 17 days of racing.

October 13, which featured the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup, welcomed a near-record fall crowd of 28,337. The current single-day record in the fall is 28,880 set on October 7, 2006. Weekdays this October continue to show increased strength with Wednesdays and Thursdays averaging just shy of 10,000 people per day.

"This was a strong meeting from many aspects -- especially wagering, attendance, and quality of racing," Bill Thomason said in his first race meet as Keeneland president and CEO. "We gave our horsemen and our fans 17 terrific days of racing, and I continue to be proud of our team and the product we put out there for them to enjoy. I am already looking forward to the Spring meeting."

Jockey Julien Leparoux and owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey dominated the fall season, assuming clear leads in the jockey and owner categories, respectively, early in the race meet to cruise home by comfortable margins. 

Leparoux continued to establish his place in Keeneland's storied history, capturing his fifth consecutive, and ninth overall, leading rider title. He recorded 26 wins during the fall meet, 12 more than runner-up Corey Lanerie.

A two-time Eclipse Award recipient, Leparoux earned Keeneland victory 300 on October 24 to become the fifth jockey to attain that level at Keeneland and trails only Pat Day (918), Don Brumfield (716), Robby Albarado (444) and Shane Sellers (412). He ranks fourth in terms of riding titles -- Day won a record 22 meet titles, followed by Brumfield (16) and Steve Brooks (10).

Leparoux's 33 stakes wins at Keeneland include four this fall in the Grade 3 Phoenix on Sum of the Parts, Grade 3 Bourbon on Balance the Books, Grade 3 Sycamore on Kindergarden Kid and closing-day Grade 2 Fayette on Newsdad.

Ken and Sarah Ramsey's 12 wins this fall tie the record held by Mr. and Mrs. Robert F. Roberts (fall 1968) and Calumet Farm (spring 1941) for number of wins by an owner during a Keeneland race meet.

It is the 11th leading owner title won by the Ramseys, who also topped the owner's list in the spring. They share second-place in the number of Keeneland meet titles with Bwamazon Farm and Overbrook Farm, and fall just shy of T.A. Grissom, who leads all owners with 14.

The race for leading trainer honors came down to the wire, with Wesley Ward scoring three wins on closing day to overtake Mike Maker in the standings, 12 wins to 10. It completes a sweep of 2012 for Ward, who won his first Keeneland trainer's title in the spring.

"Once again, we wish to thank the horsemen for competing at Keeneland," Vice President of Racing Rogers Beasley said. "We hosted horses and horsemen from all over the country and it made for some outstanding racing over these last 17 days."

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