Keeneland Enjoys Record Spring Meet

Keeneland achieved several wagering records during its 16-day spring meet that ended April 26.

The all-sources total handle reached a record $135,656,102, an increase of 4.8% from the previous record of $129,387,326 set during last year's 15-day spring meet. On-track wagering was a record $27,216,210, which includes wagering on full-card simulcasting from New York, California, Arkansas, and Florida. The average daily on-track handle also was a record $1,701,013.

A total of 227,545 attended the meet, which was the third largest crowd in track history. The average daily attendance was 14,222, down 3% from last year's record average of 14,649.

"Each race meeting, we're trying to reach out to the racing fans in new and different ways," said Keeneland president Nick Nicholson. "We're experimenting with wagering formats and providing more wagering information. We're trying to reach out to both the experienced horseplayer and the casual racing fan. We believe that these efforts, coupled with the top-quality program put together by our staff, is enticing fans to watch and wager on Keeneland racing."

Other highlights of the meet included a single-day on-track handle record of $3,516,621 set April 13 on Blue Grass Day. Keeneland distributed a record $10,004,312 in purses, an average of $625,270 per day, compared with last spring when purses totaled $9,697,495, an average of $646,500.

Robby Albarado took the Keeneland riding title for the first time with 26 wins. Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas captured his fourth spring title and 13th Keeneland title overall with 11 wins. Leading owners for the meet were Elizabeth Samuel's Sam-Son Farm and Ken and Sarah Ramsey who shared the leading owner's title with seven wins apiece.

Ken McPeek accomplished a rare double by winning both the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) with Harlan's Holiday and the Ashland Stakes (gr. I) with Take Charge Lady. The feat has been accomplished only five other times since 1937. D. Wayne Lukas took the last double in 1987 with War in the Blue Grass and Chic Shirine in the Ashland. The other four trainers were LeRoy Jolley in 1976, George Poole in 1971, Woody Stephens in 1949, and Ben Jones in 1948.