Keeneland has slated 18 stakes--led by five grade I races on opening FallStars Weekend--with purse money totaling $4.375 million for its 2011 fall meeting. The meet, which runs Oct. 7-29, celebrates the track’s 75th anniversary of racing.
Keeneland hosted more than 8,000 fans for its first day of live racing on Oct. 15, 1936. In honor of that milestone, on Saturday, Oct. 15, Keeneland will feature not only the 28th running of the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (gr. I), but also the $125,000 Keeneland 75th Anniversary Stakes for 2-year-olds at six furlongs on the main track.
The Keeneland 75th Anniversary Stakes is a nod to the original Lexington Stakes, one of four stakes (the others being the Keen Handicap, Breeders’ Stakes, and Ashland Stakes) contested during the track’s inaugural fall meeting. The Lexington was held for 2-year-olds going six furlongs from 1936-1937.
Also new this fall will be Stoll Keenon Ogden’s sponsorship of the Phoenix (gr. III), a six-furlong race for 3-year-olds and up on opening Friday, Oct. 7.
“This fall will be particularly special for Keeneland as we commemorate our 75-year history and reflect on the many champions--both human and equine--that have graced this race course,” said W.B. Rogers Beasley, Keeneland’s vice president of racing, in a statement. “Keeneland is a jewel of American racing, and we take pride in continuing its legacy of offering the highest quality racing possible.”
Nine graded stakes worth more than $2.8 million will highlight Keeneland’s signature FallStars Weekend, attracting top contenders for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships and subsequent year-end honors.
Six FallStars stakes are part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge, a global series of automatic qualifying races for the Breeders’ Cup, to be held Nov. 4-5 at Churchill Downs: the Darley Alcibiades, gr. I (Juvenile Fillies, gr. I) and Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix (Sprint, gr. I) Oct. 7; the Shadwell Turf Mile, gr. IT (Mile, gr. IT), Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity, gr. I (Juvenile, gr. I) and Thoroughbred Club of America, gr. II (Filly and Mare Sprint, gr. I) on Oct. 8; and the Juddmonte Spinster (gr. I) (Ladies’ Classic, gr. I) on Oct. 9.
Last fall, Dubai Majesty and Chamberlain Bridge prepped for their respective Breeders’ Cup wins in FallStar stakes. Dubai Majesty followed her win in the Thoroughbred Club of America (gr. II) with a victory in the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (gr. I), while Chamberlain Bridge, fourth in the Woodford (gr. III), won the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (gr. II).
The Oct. 13 JPMorgan Chase Jessamine (gr. III), which has been upgraded to grade III status for 2011 and will serve as the Breeders’ Cup Challenge race for the Juvenile Fillies Turf (gr. II).