Keeneland Spring Meet Opens Friday

Racing news
Blue Grass Stakes, Full Fields and Adjusted Takeout Rates Highlight Keeneland Spring Meet

The unofficial beginning of springtime in the Bluegrass starts April 6, as Keeneland opens its doors for its 16-day spring meet Friday. However, snow on Saturday will make the weekend opener a bit of a downer at the Lexington, Kentucky track, but the blockbuster 11-day card is filled with full fields and 124 horses entered prior to scratches.

The Keeneland meet will feature 16 stakes races worth a season-record $4.4 million, highlighted by Saturday’s $1 million Toyota Blue Grass (G2), a key Kentucky Derby prep race with a competitive full field of 15 ready for the chilly and snowy forecast.

Saturday’s big day of racing at Keeneland also includes:

  • $500,000 Ashland Stakes (G1) for 3-year-old fillies
  • $300,000 Madison Stakes (G1) for older fillies and mares
  • $200,000 Shakertwon Sprint (G2) for 3-year-olds and up
  • $250,000 Commonwealth Stakes (G3) for older horses

Friday’s 10-race card has robust fields and the $150,000 Transylvania Stakes (G3) for 3-year-olds is the feature race.

Adjusted Takeout Rates

Keeneland will reduce parimutuel takeout rates on win, place, show and exacta wagers for its 2018 Spring Meet, to be held Apr. 6 to 27,

Pricing on win, place and show wagers will decrease from 17.5% to 16%, while exactas are reduced from 22% to 19.5%. Takeout for the Pick 5 sits at 15%, while all other exotic wagers, including doubles, will remain at 22%.

Keeneland was the focal point of a horseplayers’ boycott directed by the Horseplayers Association of North America (HANA) in response to its fall takeout increases. Bob Elliston, Vice President of Racing and Sales at Keeneland, said that customer feedback played a role in guiding their decision to readjust takeout levels.

“Keeneland’s goals are mission-oriented, and we continually review, measure and listen to our customers across all business lines to ensure our operations promote the health and vibrancy of the horse industry,” Elliston said in a statement. “The changes to takeout last fall were aimed at further enhancing the quality of our racing program. We were successful in that goal and will offer a season record $4.4 million in stakes purses this spring.”

Keeneland takeout ranks second-lowest for exacta wagers and third-lowest for win, place and show among major North American race tracks, according to comparative rates published by HANA

“Higher wagering also generates purse money, and we believe these takeout rates strike a competitive balance to which our customers will respond favorably,” Elliston said. “We targeted win, place and show and exacta wagers because they make up nearly 60% of our total wagers.”

Racing at Keeneland will be held Wednesdays-Sundays, with gates opening at 11 a.m. and races beginning at 1:05 p.m.