Home » Keeneland concludes spring racing season with record wagering

Keeneland concludes spring racing season with record wagering

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Keeneland successfully closed its 2022 Spring Meet on Friday with all-sources handle topping $219 million to establish an all-time wagering record for the historic Thoroughbred track. Fans at Keeneland and across the country enjoyed an exceptionally strong racing season with record average daily purses of $1.147 million attracting the nation’s top horses and jockeys and resulting in full fields that averaged 9.1 starters per race. Complementing the quality racing was a slate of special events that offered family fun while benefiting the local community.

The 15-day Spring Meet, held April 8-29, marks the third consecutive season of record handle at Keeneland, reflecting the tremendous quality of racing.

All-sources wagering (not including whole-card simulcasting at Keeneland) for the Spring Meet totaled $219,284,979, eclipsing the previous record of $181,009,626 set during last year’s 17-day Fall Meet. The total represents a 33.16 percent increase over last spring’s record $164,680,229. The average daily all-sources handle was $14,618,999.

Wagering totals were boosted by several individual handle records during the meet. Record single-day all-sources handle of $28,137,728 was set on Toyota Blue Grass Day, Saturday, April 9, which featured 11 races, five of which were graded stakes.

Wagering on the 11-race card the following Saturday, April 16, totaled $27,304,001 to be the second-highest single-day handle in Keeneland history.

Record Pick 4 and Pick 5 wagering also was realized on April 16. The Pick 4 handled a record $1,357,298, exceeding the previous mark of $1,065,002 set on Toyota Blue Grass Day in 2018. The Pick 5 handled a record $1,539,098 to surpass the $1,485,090 established on Toyota Blue Grass Day in 2021.

On-track wagering this spring totaled $16,190,832, up 75.52 percent from last spring’s $9,224,273 when COVID-19 limited attendance for the meet. The average daily on-track wagering this spring was $1,079,389.

The Keeneland Turf Pick 3, a wager on the final three turf races each day that was inaugurated last fall, remained popular with handicappers with a total handle of $1,543,399, for an average of $128,617 per day (12 days of the wager).

Racing Highlights

  • Daily purses at Keeneland this spring averaged a record $1,147,834, an increase of 55.13 percent over last spring’s $739,902.
  • Keeneland awarded a record $7.7 million for 19 stakes held this spring. The schedule featured increased purses for all stakes and significant changes to the season’s two historic classic preps: The Toyota Blue Grass (G1), a key 3-year-old prep on the Road to the Kentucky Derby (G1) and held the first Saturday of the Spring Meet, was elevated to Grade 1 status and the purse was restored to $1 million. The Central Bank Ashland (G1) for 3-year-old fillies was worth a record $600,000 and moved to opening day to provide a showcase for this major Kentucky Oaks (G1) prep.
  • Purses for some stakes doubled for 2022, most prominently the Maker’s Mark Mile (G1) increased from $300,000 to $600,000, Stonestreet Lexington (G3) from $200,000 to $400,000 and Ben Ali (G3) from $150,000 to $300,000. Others, such as the Shakertown (G2), Beaumont (G3) Presented by Keeneland Select and Kentucky Utilities Transylvania (G3), received significant boosts.

Spring Meet Leaders 

  • The Spring Meet showcased outstanding competition thanks to horses representing the sport’s leading trainers, jockeys and owners. As a result, races for leading horsemen were decided on the final day of the season.
  • Trainer Wesley Ward won 13 races to secure his sixth Spring Meet title and eighth title overall. Ward took the aforementioned Shakertown with Golden Pal and Giant’s Causeway along with the TVG Limestone (L) with Ruthin (GB).
  • Finishing second with 11 victories was Brad Cox, who won the Madison (G1) with Just One Time, Stonestreet Lexington and Beaumont (G3) Presented by Keeneland Select with Matareya.
  • In third with nine wins was Chad Brown, who won Toyota Blue Grass with Zandon and Jenny Wiley (G1) with Regal Glory.
  • Among jockeys, Tyler Gaffalione earned his first Spring Meet title and fifth title overall. He led riders with 19 wins, including the Appalachian (G2) Presented by Japan Racing Association on Spendarella and Commonwealth (G3) on Prevalence. Gaffalione’s success included winning four races on April 9 and three races on April 15.
  • Irad Ortiz Jr. finished second in the standings with 18 victories. Ortiz rode three winners twice, on opening day and closing day. On opening day, his wins included the Central Bank Ashland and Kentucky Utilities Transylvania on Sy Dog. Ortiz also won the Shakertown and Giant’s Causeway.
  • Finishing third with 15 wins was Flavien Prat, who won the Toyota Blue Grass aboard Zandon along with the Madison and Beaumont Presented by Keeneland Select.
  • Luis Saez finished fourth with 14 wins. He won the Maker’s Mark Mile on Shirl’s Speight and the Elkhorn on Channel Maker.
  • Barbara Banke’s Stonestreet Stables was the meet’s leading owner with five wins, including the TVG Limestone. This is the first title for Stonestreet.

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