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New Stake to Debut at Keeneland

1 5/8-mile event joins 2008 spring racing calendar, other changes apply

The $100,000-added Fort Harrod Stakes, to be run at 1 5/8-miles for 4-year-olds and up, has been added to the 2008 spring stakes schedule at Keeneland, the racing association announced Jan. 11.

The Fort Harrod, to be run April 19, is slated as part of a nationwide series of distance races leading up to the new $500,000 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Marathon, for 3-year-olds and up at 1 ½ miles. It will be one of three stakes held April 19 at Keeneland, joining the $100,000-added Giant’s Causeway and the $325,000 Coolmore Lexington (gr. II), traditionally a prep race for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).

"Obviously, with the added categories within the Breeders' Cup, several racing secretaries have gotten together to see how we can support the new races with preps," said Ben Huffman, racing secretary at Keeneland. "I don't really know what will happen, it will take a couple of years to actually know if it's a successful move or not, but I like the idea. I think ultimately all of us would like to save the distance breed because that type of horse has practically vanished."

Keeneland will feature 19 stakes worth a record $4.4 million in purse money during its spring meeting, to be held April 4 -25. The spring racing calendar also has been revised to reflect date changes for three other stakes races: the $125,000 Appalachian (gr. III), for 3-year-old fillies at one mile on the turf, will be run April 16; the $150,000 Royal Chase for the Sport of Kings (NSA-I), for 4-year-olds and up at 2 ½ miles over hurdles, will be held April 17; and the $150,000 Grey Goose Bewitch Stakes (gr. III), for 4-year-olds and up at 1 ½ miles on the turf, will be contested April 24.