Top Purses and Top Horses Highlight Keeneland Spring Meet

Opening weekend at Keeneland Race Course is one week away. The 2002 program promises to one of the best ever as top purses, and top horses highlight the meet.

The 16-day spring race meeting runs April 5-26 with racing Wednesdays through Sundays. Post time each race day is 1:15 p.m. (ET). Gates open at 11 a.m.

The spring meet is considered a premiere stepping-stone to the Triple Crown races. The $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) April 13 and the $325,000 Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. II) April 20 are important prep races for the Kentucky Derby (gr. I). The $500,000-added Ashland Stakes (gr. I) April 6 is an important prelude to the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I).

The $250,000 Maker's Mark Mile on Friday, April 12 will kick off a big weekend of racing and fan entertainment. The grade II race for 4-year-olds and up will be run on the turf, with the 78th running the following day of the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes.

Keeneland and Maker's Mark will continue its tradition of issuing special limited edition bottles to commemorate the Maker's Mark Mile. This year's bottle features Bill Keightley, long-time equipment manager for the University of Kentucky men's basketball team. The bottles will go on sale on opening day, Friday, April 5 at liquor stores in Fayette and Woodford Counties. Proceeds from sales of this year's commemorative bottle will benefit the Kentucky Basketball Musuem.

Maker's Mark President, Bill Samuels, Keeneland President Nick Nicholson and Keightley will be on hand to sign the bottles, on Maker's Mark Mile day (Friday, April 12) from 7 a.m. until 9 a.m.

Additional information about the 2002 Keeneland Spring Meet can be found at