LEXINGTON, Ky. — Keeneland today announced its 2020 Spring Meet stakes schedule, which features 18 stakes anchored by the $1 million Toyota Blue Grass (G2) and $500,000 Central Bank Ashland (G1) and is worth a season record $4.8 million in purse money. Purse increases highlight the Spring Meet, to be held April 2-26, with the Maker’s 46 Mile (G1) boosted by $100,000 to $400,000, and Baird Doubledogdare (G3) and Giant’s Causeway (L) each enhanced by $50,000 to $150,000.
For the second consecutive year, the 16-day Spring Meet will open on Thursday, April 2, with a 3 p.m. ET first post. During the remainder of the season, which runs through Friday, April 26, post time for the first race will be 1:05 p.m. Keeneland is closed Easter Sunday, April 12.
“The opening of Keeneland’s Spring Meet is one of those dates horsemen and fans alike annually circle on their calendars; it generates tremendous excitement given the depth of quality and competition,” Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason said. “We are delighted to offer the purse increases, especially for the Maker’s 46 Mile, which further emphasizes the race’s significance among turf stars early in the season.”
Keeneland will present a total of 10 stakes on grass and eight stakes on dirt during the Spring Meet while showcasing multiple stakes on the first two Saturdays of the season.
Opening day, Thursday, April 2, features the second running of the $100,000 Palisades Turf Sprint, for 3-year-olds going 5½ furlongs on the grass. On Friday, April 3, the $150,000 Kentucky Utilities Transylvania (G3), a 1 1/16-mile turf race for 3-year-olds, will be run.
Two nationally prominent classic preps will be contested opening Saturday, April 4, with the 96th running of the Toyota Blue Grass and 83rd running of the Central Bank Ashland. The Toyota Blue Grass, for 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles, and the Central Bank Ashland, for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles, are worth 100 points each to the winners on the Road to the Kentucky Derby and Road to the Kentucky Oaks, respectively.
The Toyota Blue Grass will be televised by NBC Sports Group along with the Wood Memorial (G2) from Aqueduct and Santa Anita Derby (G1).
The early nomination deadline for the Toyota Blue Grass and Central Bank Ashland is Feb. 15. Late nominations are due March 18.
Joining the Toyota Blue Grass and Central Bank Ashland on the April 4 card are the $300,000 Madison (G1), for older fillies and mares at 7 furlongs; $200,000 Shakertown (G2), for 3-year-olds and up at 5½ furlongs on the turf; and $250,000 Commonwealth (G3), for older horses at 7 furlongs.
The four-day opening weekend concludes Sunday, April 5, with a pair of stakes for 3-year-old fillies: the $200,000 Appalachian (G2) Presented by Japan Racing Association, at 1 mile on turf, and $150,000 Beaumont (G3) Presented by Keeneland Select, at 7 furlongs, 184 feet, on dirt.
For the remainder of the Spring Meet, racing will be held Wednesday through Sunday.
Stakes action returns Friday, April 10, with the Maker’s 46 Mile, for 4-year-olds on up at 1 mile on turf, and the second running of the $100,000 Limestone Turf Sprint for 3-year-old fillies going 5½ furlongs.
Saturday, April 11, is another multi-stakes day that features the $350,000 Coolmore Jenny Wiley (G1), a 1 1/16-mile turf race for fillies and mares on the turf, and the $200,000 Stonestreet Lexington (G3), for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles. One of the final preps on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, the Stonestreet Lexington awards the winner 10 Derby qualifying points. The day’s other stakes are the $200,000 Ben Ali (G3), for older horses racing 1 1/8 miles, and the Giant’s Causeway, a 5½-furlong turf race for fillies and mares.
Older horses will be showcased in three graded stakes during the final days of the season. The Baird Doubledogdare for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles is set for Friday, April 17. The $250,000 Dixiana Elkhorn (G2), for older males at 1½ miles on the turf is the next day.
The $150,000 Bewitch (G3), for fillies and mares racing 1½ miles on the turf, is the April 24 closing-day feature.