Keeneland Closes with Record Attendance and Gains in Wagering
The 17-day Fall Meet at Keeneland concluded Oct. 29, as the Kentucky track celebrated its 80th anniversary of racing with record total on-track attendance of 276,543. That exceeded last fall’s attendance by nearly 15% and surpassed the 266,466 set in 2013. The track also showed gains in both on-track wagering and all-sources wagering.
Daily attendance also increased nearly 15% from last year with an average of 16,267 patrons passing through the turnstiles. That bested the 2013 Fall Meet record of 15,674.
All-sources wagering on Keeneland racing totaled $132,937,720–up 11.6% from last fall’s $119,051,901. Average daily all-sources handle of $7,819,866 increased 11.6% versus $7,003,053 in the fall of 2015.
Total on-track wagering of $17,593,419 outpaced last fall’s $15,813,986 by 12.5%.
“The Fall Meet was simply spectacular,” Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason said. “The world-class racing, idyllic weather and colorful fall landscape, wonderful food and fun-filled special events all combined to make this a very special race meet. I often saw fans linger until well after the last race to savor every minute of an afternoon spent in this extraordinary setting.”
The Fall Meet got off to a strong start when Keeneland hosted a record Fall Stars Weekend crowd of 66,437 on Oct. 7-9 to break a decade-long record of 62,454.
Wagering was further driven by a Pick 6 carryover that grew to $329,321 before being hit on Thursday, Oct. 20, when 61 perfect tickets each paid $16,690. On that day, a total of $1,145,677 was wagered into the Pick 6 pool to set a record single-day Keeneland Fall Meet Pick 6 handle.
Purse money this fall averaged $675,750 to rank Keeneland among the nation’s most lucrative racing programs and attract North America’s top jockeys and trainers.
Jockey Julien Leparoux earned his 11th meet riding title with 21 victories. Ken and Sarah Ramsey were the meet’s leading owners, winning nine races to earn their 18th Keeneland title. Mark Casse held off Mike Maker to capture his third leading trainer title at Keeneland with 13 wins during the fall including four in graded stakes. That included the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity, won by Classic Empire, who will run in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
Casse joined trainer Graham Motion at this fall’s meet with a record-tying four stakes victories to equal the record held by racing Hall of Famers D. Wayne Lukas, Ben Jones and multiple Eclipse Award winner Todd Pletcher for most stakes wins by a trainer in a single race meet at Keeneland.
“We enjoyed championship-caliber racing throughout the Fall Meet, and we thank our horsemen for their strong support of Keeneland,” Vice President of Racing and Sales Bob Elliston said. “The quality and size of our race fields made Keeneland a popular racing product and drove increases in handle both at the track and nationwide.”
Keeneland became the eight straight track to record increased handle in Kentucky. Total Kentucky handle increased 8.4% this year to $859,231,829).
A record 145 players on Sunday, Oct. 16, participated in Keeneland’s National Handicapping Challenge/Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge Handicapping Challenge, won by Cleveland-area native Ryan Steigmeier. Players competed for $45,000 in prize money and seven fully paid entries to both the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge and the Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship in Las Vegas.