15 days of racing feature $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass, Wagering Innovation, Special Events
LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 30, 2012) — World-class Thoroughbred racing returns to Keeneland on Friday, April 6, for 15 days of racing that includes the April 14, $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass (G1), a springboard to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1), and special events for some of the largest crowds in all of horse racing. On opening day, Keeneland will become the first track in the country to introduce a budget-conscious wager for handicappers, and young fans may join the new Keeneland Kids Club.
Keeneland features racing on Wednesday through Sunday except Easter Sunday, April 8. A total of 16 stakes worth $3.635 million will be run during the season, which concludes April 27. Fifteen stakes are graded, seven of which will be contested on the turf course. At least one stakes race will be held on 12 days of the season. Post time for the first race each day is 1:05 p.m. (ET).
Signature races nationally televised
The Toyota Blue Grass for 3-year-olds and the April 7, $500,000 Central Bank Ashland (G1) for 3-year-old fillies both will be televised live on the NBC Sports Group, thanks to a collaboration between NBC, The Jockey Club, Keeneland and five other racetracks. The program, called „Road to the Kentucky Derby,‰ features major prep races leading to the Kentucky Derby on May 5.
On April 14, the Toyota Blue Grass will be featured during „Road to the Kentucky Derby‰ on CNBC from 6-7 p.m. The 1 1/8-mile race, which has been the springboard for 19 horses that have gone on to win the Kentucky Derby, will be run for the 88th time this year. The race, which was inaugurated in 1911 at the old Kentucky Association track near downtown Lexington, was first run during Keeneland’s inaugural spring meeting in April 1937. The winner was Maxwell Howard’s Fencing.
The Central Bank Ashland, for 3-year-old fillies racing 1 1/16 miles, will be broadcast live during a 90-minute program on NBC that includes coverage of the Santa Anita Derby (G1) and Resorts World Casino New York City Wood Memorial (G1) and begins at 4:30 p.m. The Central Bank Ashland, whose purse was boosted $100,000 this year, is a major steppingstone to the Kentucky Oaks (G1), run at Churchill Downs the day before the Kentucky Derby. Thirty-one fillies have used the Central Bank Ashland as a springboard to victory in the Oaks.
The first half of this year’s spring meeting includes three other Grade 1 stakes: the $300,000 Vinery Madison for fillies and mares, 4-year-olds and up, at seven furlongs on April 12; the $300,000 Maker’s 46 Mile (formerly the Maker’s Mark Mile) for 4-year-olds and up at 1 mile on the turf on April 13, and the $300,000 Jenny Wiley for fillies and mares, 4-year-olds and up, at 1 1/16 miles on the turf on April 14.
Three-year-olds with Triple Crown aspirations also will compete in the Coolmore Lexington (G3) on April 21. The 1 1/16-mile race is worth $200,000.
Racing from Keeneland each day will be featured on the cable network TVG, beginning at 1 p.m. (ET). Fans also can watch every Keeneland race live ˆ and at no charge ˆ on the track’s website, Keeneland.com.
Fractional wagers debut
Keeneland will become the first track in the country to enable on-track patrons to make fractional wagers. Available on all pools ˆ from simple win, place and show bets to complex serial wagers ˆ fractional wagering allows handicappers to include more horses in their wagers while keeping the total price of the wager affordable. The minimum wager must match the minimum for each individual pool: 10 cents for superfectas, 50 cents for trifectas and pick wagers. For instance, a fan who has $5 to wager could bet a three-horse trifecta box for $4.80 ˆ
with each possible combination costing only 80 cents. Typically, a $1 trifecta box would cost $6.
Another wagering enhancement at Keeneland is the display of decimal odds on some in-house monitors. Popular among bettors in Europe and Australasia, decimal odds differ from traditional fixed odds in that they display the actual winning amount that would be paid out to the bettor.
Fans with any questions regarding handicapping will find assistance at Wagering Central, located under the Grandstand. Fans can visit Wagering Central to get basic information about wagering and free selections for the day, and to sign up for Keeneland‚s FastBet card or Keeneland Select, the track’s at-home wagering Internet site.
Horseplayers also can take part in the Keeneland Handicapping Contest each Wednesday of the season. Entrants will receive a free Daily Racing Form and will play for a guaranteed $2,500 pool. Advance wagering on the Toyota Blue Grass will be available on April 13. The next day, Keeneland will offer a $250,000-guaranteed All Stakes Pick 4, presented by TVG, which covers the Toyota Blue Grass, Jenny Wiley, Commonwealth (G2), and Shakertown (G3).
Keeneland Kids Club opens
This spring, fans 12 and under are invited to join the free Keeneland Kids Club. Members of the 2012 Club receive a personalized membership pass, birthday card from Buckles the official mascot, discounts, invitations to exclusive Kids Club events and more.
Kids can meet Buckles and register to become a member on Saturday mornings during Breakfast with the Works or on Sundays from noon to 2 p.m. in the North Terrace. Registration is also available at Keeneland.com.
Keeneland.com includes up-to-the-minute information about special events during the spring season, as well as The Keeneland Gift Shop’s trunk shows with noted designers such as milliner Christine Moore, and book signings with authors of new books about Thoroughbred racing. They include:
College Scholarship Day on opening day. The event draws thousands of students from colleges and universities in Kentucky and in neighboring states. Admission is free for full-time students, who can register in the College Zone in the North Terrace to win one of ten $1,000 scholarships and other great prizes to be awarded after each of the day‚s races. The first 1,000 students to register will receive a free student-designed t-shirt courtesy of Kennedy Book Store. The day will feature free snacks, live music and a student-only handicapping contest.
Saturdays at Keeneland begin with the popular Breakfast with the Works program from 7-8:30 a.m., which includes children’s activities, trackside commentary on Thoroughbreds as they train and a show-and-tell by a member of the racing industry. A Southern-style breakfast, served in the trackside Equestrian Room, is available for $7; kids 3 and under eat free. A free equine-related demonstration in the Paddock follows at 8:45 a.m. Tom Leach, managing editor of the Leach Report, will host a trackside handicapping seminar at 11:30 a.m., and at 12:05 p.m. former jockey and racing commentator Donna Brothers will conduct a Q & A with jockeys in the Paddock. New this spring, fans can have a photo made with Bucky the Bugler in the Winner‚s Circle from 11:30 a.m. ˆ 12:30 p.m.
Maker’s Mark bottle signing on Friday, April 13, the day of the Maker’s 46 Mile. This year‚s commemorative bottle celebrates University of Kentucky football great Tim Couch, who will sign bottles with Rob Samuels of Maker’s Mark and Nick Nicholson of Keeneland. Sales of the bottle are expected to start April 6 and will benefit the Gill Heart Institute at UK HealthCare.
To raise breast cancer awareness, Keeneland will host Horses and Hope Pink Day on Sunday, April 15. The day includes family activities in the North Terrace and the Breast Cancer Survivor Luncheon in the Keeneland Sales Pavilion. Horses and Hope is First Lady Jane Beshear’s initiative to reach women working in Kentucky’s horse industry with education and mammography screening.
Military Appreciation Day, presented by Windstream, on Sunday, April 22. All active and inactive members of the military and their families receive free general admission with a military ID at any pass gate. The North Terrace will be transformed into the Military Family Zone with free food, live music and special giveaways and activities for children.
Following the races on closing day is the Concert on the Lawn to benefit the Markey Cancer Center. The event features a concert by Off the Hook.
Keeneland Spring Meeting At a Glance
Post time: 1:05 p.m. (ET) Gates open at 11 a.m. No racing on Mondays, Tuesdays and Easter Sunday, April 8.
Admission: $5. Children 12 and under free.
Parking: Free (shuttles available from many lots); Preferred Parking ($5 on Wednesdays and Thursdays, $10 on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays).
Tailgating: Enter Keeneland’s Gate 1 entrance across from Man o’ War Boulevard.
Simulcasting: Major Thoroughbred tracks in the United States and selected international tracks.
Twitter: News, information and expert picks at @keenelandracing; real-time paddock updates at @paddockreport.
Other: Keeneland is on Facebook (Facebook.com/Keeneland) and YouTube (Keenelandfan), and has a mobile site for smartphone users. QR Codes are located around Keeneland to provide a guided tour of the grounds, and in the track’s daily program to provide race day scratches and changes.