Wagering up 23.4%
LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 2, 2016) — Keeneland’s attendance of 262,197 at this year’s Spring Meet was the fourth highest ever and was an increase of 4.69 percent from last year when 250,451 attended. Average attendance was down this year, from 16,697 to 16,387, with last year’s meet lasting 15 days, compared to 16 this year.
Attendance of 38,863 on April 16, represented the largest Coolmore Day figure in track history and third-largest non-Breeders’ Cup crowd at Keeneland.
On-track handle of $17,974,896 outpaced last spring’s $16,142,325 by 11.35 percent. Average daily on-track handle increased 4.39 percent from $1,076,155 to $1,123,431.
All-sources wagering on Keeneland’s Spring Meet, including wagering at Keeneland on imported simulcast signals, totaled $149,198,361 and registered significant growth, up 23.4 percent from last year’s $120,905,615. Average daily all-sources handle rose 15.69 percent from $8,060,374 to $9,324,898.
Keeneland registered an all-time single-day handle record of $21,736,983 on Toyota Blue Grass Day, April 9. All-sources wagering included $20,805,455 handled on Keeneland’s 11 live races; $423,679 wagered on the Big Apple/Bluegrass Pick 4; and on-track simulcast handle of $507,849. The record bested the previous mark of $21,647,378 set on Toyota Blue Grass Day of April 14, 2012.
“The momentum from last fall’s Breeders’ Cup carried forward to this spring and contributed to so many positives during this race meet,” Keeneland president and CEO Bill Thomason said. “The loyalty of our fans and horsemen and the strong support of our corporate and media partners are very gratifying. These relationships are key to Keeneland’s success.”
A total of 35 horses who competed in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland last fall returned to race at Keeneland this spring, headlined by four Breeders’ Cup winners: Canadian Horse of the Year Catch a Glimpse, winner of the Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) who won the Appalachian (G3) Presented by Japan Racing Association; champion and Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) winner Tepin, winner of the Coolmore Jenny Wiley (G1); Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) winner Stopchargingmaria, second in the Madison (G1); and Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (G1) winner Wavell Avenue, third in the Madison.
Six spring stakes were won by Breeders’ Cup horses. Joining Catch a Glimpse and Tepin were Brody’s Cause (Toyota Blue Grass-G1), Sheer Drama (Madison), Undrafted (Shakertown-G2) and Da Big Hoss (Dixiana Elkhorn).
Adding to the excitement surrounding the Spring Meet was the presence of champion Nyquist, the early favorite for the Kentucky Derby. Winner of the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Keeneland last fall, Nyquist trained at Keeneland throughout April, turning in his final Derby work on closing day, April 29.
“One of our goals in hosting the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland was to further enhance the quality of racing during our Spring and Fall meets,” Keeneland vice president of racing W.B. Rogers Beasley said. “It’s very rewarding to see these great champions come back to Keeneland and thrill fans once again.”
Beasley will retire this summer following a distinguished 34-year career during which he has played key roles in establishing Keeneland’s position as the world’s premier Thoroughbred auction house and strengthening the track’s lucrative racing program.
Throughout the Spring Meet, Keeneland offered a full calendar of unique special events. On opening day, April 8, students from colleges and universities in Kentucky and the surrounding region participated in College Scholarship Day, which gave away a $10,000 Runhappy Scholarship in addition to ten $1,000 scholarships and $7,000 worth of prizes during the afternoon. Fans had their commemorative Maker’s Mark bottle signed by members of the 1978 national championship University of Kentucky men’s basketball team on Maker’s Mark Day, April 15, and honored military members and their families on Military Day at the Races Presented by Marathon on April 24.
Keeneland recognized legendary retired and active jockeys during Hall of Fame Jockey Day on April 22. Eighteen Hall of Famer riders who won a total of 89,621 races, including 20 runnings of the Kentucky Derby, participated in a Q&A session and an autograph signing to benefit the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame and the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund. In attendance were Braulio Baeza, Bill Boland, Don Brumfield, Steve Cauthen, Pat Day, Earlie Fires, Sandy Hawley, Eddie Maple, Chris McCarron, Don Pierce, Laffit Pincay Jr., Randy Romero, John Rotz, Jose Santos, Gary Stevens, Jacinto Vasquez, Jorge Velasquez and Manny Ycaza.