Anne M. Eberhardt

Business Strong Early in Keeneland Meet

Keeneland's spring meet is off to a good start business-wise.

Keeneland reported business gains for the first three days of its spring meet, including record attendance for a three-day period.

In comments made before the April 13 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) post-position draw, Keeneland president Nick Nicholson said combined attendance of more than 62,000 for April 8-10 (Friday through Sunday) was up 11% and set a new record. Also, ontrack pari-mutuel handle for the three days was up 14% from last spring.

Field size averaged 9.28 horses per race, among the highest in the country.

Such increases are “something not said very often” given declines around the country, Nicholson said. “We’re thrilled with that.”

Nicholson also mentioned Keeneland’s synthetic surface, which withstood almost four inches of rain April 11-12. Despite that fact there were 21 workouts on the Polytrack the morning of April 12, and another 80 the morning of April 13, he said.

“(The April 13) card could have been decimated,” Nicholson said, “but this racetrack did not close for one minute. We want the racetrack to know how much we appreciate it.”

Earlier in the week Nicholson told The Blood-Horse that, despite rumors circulating at the Keeneland April sale of 2-year-olds in training, there are no plans to remove the Polytrack and go back to dirt.