During Keeneland's 15-day spring season that runs through Friday, April 24, the track is offering $3.8 million in purses for 17 stakes races in one of the richest stakes programs in North America. Post time for the first race each day is 1:05 p.m. (ET). Keeneland will be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays and on Easter Sunday, April 12.
The first half of the Keeneland meeting will include four Grade 1 stakes. In addition to the Toyota Blue Grass, those races are the $400,000 Ashland for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles on April 4; the $300,000 Vinery Madison for fillies and mares, 4-year-olds and up, at seven furlongs on April 9; and the $300,000 Maker's Mark Mile for 4-year-olds and up at one mile on turf on April 10.
The Ashland, the filly counterpart to the Toyota Blue Grass, will be run for the 72nd year. The race is an important steppingstone to the Kentucky Oaks (G1), which is run the day before the Kentucky Derby.
The Vinery Madison is making its debut as a Grade 1 race after being promoted from Grade 2 status. With the upgrade, Keeneland now runs a total of 10 Grade 1 races during its spring and fall racing seasons.
On April 18, espn2 will have live coverage of the $300,000 Coolmore Lexington (G2) from 5-6 p.m. The Coolmore Lexington at 1 1/16 miles also is for 3-year-olds.
Keeneland is renowned for quality racing, and the track has been recognized for giving horseplayers the most money for their wagering dollars. Earlier this year, the Horseplayers Association of North America (HANA), a grassroots, not-for-profit group of more than 500 horseplayers with a combined annual handle of approximately $30 million, ranked Keeneland first among 65 of the continent’s top racetracks in its inaugural Track Rating System.
This spring, horseplayers will continue to find plenty of action at Keeneland with the debut of rolling daily doubles, beginning with the first race and continuing through the day’s card. On April 10, the track will offer the Maker's Mark Mile-Toyota Blue Grass Double, requiring players to pick the winners of both Grade 1 races. Keeneland will offer a $200,000-guaranteed all-stakes Pick 4 on Toyota Blue Grass Day, covering the Jenny Wiley (G2), Shakertown (G3), Commonwealth (G2) and Toyota Blue Grass.
Keeneland also is a leader in employing innovative technology to enhance the fan experience, such as Trakus race video and a PolyCapping database—both available at Keeneland.com. PolyCapping provides handicappers with detailed information on every horse that has won a race at Keeneland on the Polytrack main track or on the turf course since October 2006.
Last fall, Keeneland became North America's first high-definition racetrack when it began to provide live race coverage and limited simulcasts in high-definition format. HD broadcasts of Keeneland will be available via on-track television monitors, infield LED tote board and certain HC-compatible telecasts, such as those produced by ESPN.
As always, fans can watch Keeneland's races live on the track's website at no charge.
Meanwhile, special events will be held on nearly every day of the Keeneland season. Opening day is College Scholarship Day, which will award ten $1,000 scholarships after each race.
Breakfast With the Works, popular with families, will be held every Saturday morning. The event will begin at 7 a.m. with trackside commentary about how horses prepare for a race and aspects of Keeneland and Thoroughbred racing. Those in attendance might see a superstar or a Derby hopeful training on the racetrack. Southern-style buffet breakfast and free children's activities are available. Breakfast With the Works continues with a free paddock demonstration at 8:45 a.m.
Each Saturday, jockeys and special guests also will participate in “Meet and Greet” events after the noon playing of the national anthem, giving fans an opportunity to mingle with their favorites for some 20 to 30 minutes.
From April 8-15, Keeneland will offer the Budweiser Clydesdales Sweepstakes to enable fans to enter to win a trip to receive a personalized photo session with the Budweiser Clydesdales at Keeneland, lunch at the track's Equestrian Room, and a trip to St. Louis to tour the Anheuser-Busch brewery. The Budweiser Clydesdales will be at Keeneland on April 17-18 and will perform on the track on April 18.
On April 10, University of Kentucky football coach Rich Brooks will participate in a signing of 2009 commemorative Maker's Mark bottles. The bottles will go on sale on Friday, April 3, at liquor retailers throughout Kentucky. The first 1,200 people in line at Keeneland will be guaranteed to have their bottles signed.
On April 17, Keeneland jockeys will participate in the Jockey Colony Autograph Signing, which will benefit the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund. That evening, a karaoke-style competition called Riders Up! will be held at the Keeneland Entertainment Center to benefit the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund. Tickets are available for Riders Up! at http://www.jockeysguild.com/
Other special events include Police and Firefighters Day on April 5; Military Appreciation Day Presented by Windstream on April 19; and United Way Day on April 22.