Keeneland Closes 2019 Spring Meet with Strong Attendance and Wagering Results

Keeneland concluded its 2019 Spring Meet on Friday with robust attendance and wagering results driven by outstanding racing with full fields of top-quality horses. The Spring Meet also featured distinctive special events to benefit the local community and horse industry as well as enhanced food and hospitality offerings.

For the first time in 60 years, Keeneland opened its Spring Meet on a Thursday, a day earlier than usual, with a special celebration featuring a 3 p.m. post time, the inaugural Palisades Turf Sprint and the popular Central Bank Thursday Night Live, held for the first time at Keeneland.

Keeneland racing

On-track attendance for the 16-day meet, held April 4-26, totaled 242,547 compared with 250,475 recorded during last year’s 16-day Spring Meet. Keeneland was closed Easter Sunday, which fell on April 21. Average daily attendance of 15,159 was just shy of last year’s 15,655.

Keeneland showcased blockbuster days of racing featuring multiple graded stakes on the first two Saturdays of the meet that, when coupled with warm spring weather, attracted crowds in excess of 34,000 people. The 34,775 fans that enjoyed Toyota Blue Grass Day, April 6, marked a record opening Saturday crowd. The following Saturday, April 13, Keeneland welcomed 34,527 people to celebrate Coolmore Jenny Wiley Day.

On-track attendance was among a number of records shattered at Keeneland on Toyota Blue Grass Day. Single-day all-sources handle for the 11-race card totaled $25,809,200, eclipsing the previous record of $22,634,861 set last year on Toyota Blue Grass Day. The All-Stakes Pick Five handled $1,079,197, well above the former record of $899,196 set on the same day in 2018. The single-race exacta pool totaled a record $1,300,591, and the single-race win-place-show pool was a record $2,068,406. The daily double pool that day was a record $249,934.

“The extraordinary support and sense of pride the Central Kentucky community demonstrates time and again for Keeneland are truly gratifying,” Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason said. “Keeneland’s success is a team effort with contributions from horsemen, sponsors, media partners, local businesses and hospitality, staff, and most of all, our loyal fans. They are the reason we strive to create the most memorable racing experiences possible for each of our guests.”

All-sources wagering on Keeneland racing totaled $153,116,119, down 2.58 percent from last spring’s $157,172,604. Average daily all-sources wagering was $9,569,757 versus $9,823,288 in 2018.

On-track wagering this spring was $16,490,636, down 5.54 percent from last year’s $17,457,750. Average daily on-track handle was $1,030,665 versus $1,091,109 last year.

Spring Meet Racing Highlights

Keeneland offered record average daily purses of $770,618 this spring, up 7.84 percent from 2018 to rank among the richest in North America, attracting Thoroughbred racing’s most talented trainers and jockeys.

Keeneland expanded its 2019 Spring Meet stakes schedule this year to include two new stakes, both $100,000 turf sprints, for a total of 18 stakes worth a season record $4.6 million in purse money.

Five graded stakes were carded for opening Saturday, anchored by the $1 million Toyota Blue Grass (G2) and $500,000 Central Bank Ashland (G1), major preps on the Roads to the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Kentucky Oaks (G1), respectively. Vekoma was an authoritative winner of the Toyota Blue Grass, earning 100 points to establish himself as a leading contender for the Kentucky Derby. Out for a Spin won the Central Bank Ashland to rank among the top point earners on the Kentucky Oaks leaderboard.

Vekoma

In other Spring Meet highlights, Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (L) winner Bulletin made a successful season debut in the opening-day Palisades Turf Sprint.

Rushing Fall earned her fourth Keeneland stakes victory with a win in the Coolmore Jenny Wiley (G1) on April 13 to tie her with Take Charge Lady for the second highest number of stakes wins at Keeneland behind only Wise Dan’s seven stakes victories.

Jockey Javier Castellano notched six stakes wins during the Spring Meet, just one shy of Pat Day’s record seven stakes wins accumulated during the 1998 Fall Meet. Castellano dominated opening weekend, recording wins in the Palisades Turf Sprint with Bulletin, Kentucky Utilities Transylvania (G3) aboard Avie’s Flatter, Madison (G1) on Spiced Perfection and Toyota Blue Grass with Vekoma. His winning streak continued the following week when he won the Maker’s 46 Mile (G1) on Delta Prince and Coolmore Jenny Wiley with Rushing Fall.

“We owe a huge thanks to our horsemen; the level of racing at Keeneland this spring was exceptional,” Keeneland Vice President of Racing and Sales Bob Elliston said. “And the competition isn’t limited to the equine stars. The convergence of the nation’s leading owners, trainers and jockeys at Keeneland in the spring makes for a spirited race for meet leader honors, which always seem to go down to the wire on closing day.”

Spring Meet Special Events Support Keeneland’s Philanthropic Mission

As a complement to the spectacular racing, Keeneland offered a full slate of special events that benefited the horse industry and the Central Kentucky community.

Keeneland hosted three fundraising events in support of jockeys. Current and retired riders participated in a jockey autograph session on opening day that raised $6,740 for the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF). Keeneland also was a host site for the second TVG-PDJF Telethon on April 7 that netted $250,000 in donations from fans who were able to speak with Hall of Fame jockeys and TVG personalities. A second jockey autograph signing on Horses and Hope Pink Day, April 25, raised $3,552 for the Shantel Lanerie Breast Cancer Foundation.

More than 2,500 students registered to participate in the popular College Scholarship Day on April 5, which offered $30,000 in scholarship money, including two $10,000 Runhappy Scholarships and $1,000 scholarships awarded after each of the day’s 10 races. Jim and Linda McIngvale, owners of champion Runhappy who stands at Claiborne Farm in Paris, Kentucky, make the Runhappy Scholarships possible. Keeneland hosts College Scholarship Day in partnership with the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association. The event has distributed nearly $380,000 at Keeneland since it began during the 2002 Fall Meet.

Thousands of fans had their commemorative Maker’s Mark bottle signed by players from the University of Kentucky’s 2011-2012 national championship men’s basketball team as part of Maker’s Mark Day on April 13. Proceeds from sales of the 2019 bottle, the fifth and final commemorative Maker’s Mark® bourbon bottle in the series, benefit UK’s Center for Academic Tutorial Services (CATS), the first center of its kind in America.

Keeneland honored active and veteran military members and their families during Military Day at the Races Presented by Marathon on April 14. In honor of Month of the Military Child, Keeneland hosted activities for children throughout the day. Also featured among the many special presentations was the unfurling of a 40’ x 60’ American flag on Keeneland’s main track.

Spring Meet Leaders

The race for Spring Meet leading owner, trainer and jockey titles remained undecided until the final races on closing day.

Four owners tied for leading honors with three wins each: Kirk Wycoff’s Three Diamonds Farm (winner of the Dixiana Elkhorn-G2 with Bigger Picture); Kosta Hronis’ Hronis Racing (winner of the Limestone Turf Sprint with Ginger Nut [IRE]); Khalid Abdullah’s Juddmonte Farms; and Robert J. Edwards Jr.’s e Five Racing Thoroughbreds (winner of the Coolmore Jenny Wiley with Rushing Fall). It was the first Keeneland leading owner title for each.

Wesley Ward recorded 11 wins to capture his fifth leading trainer title at Keeneland. Ward previously won titles in the Spring 2018 (tie), 2017 and 2012 and in the Fall of 2012. Among his wins this meet was a victory with The Mackem Bullet (IRE) in the Appalachian (G2) Presented by Japan Racing Association.

Brad Cox notched 10 wins and Chad Brown won nine races to finish second and third, respectively, in the trainer standings. Cox won the Stonestreet Lexington (G3) with Owendale. Brown won Coolmore Jenny Wiley with Rushing Fall and the Hilliard Lyons-Baird Doubledogdare (G3) with Electric Forest.

Florent Geroux earned his second leading rider title with 15 wins. He previously won in the spring of 2018. Geroux’s total was boosted by three-win days on April 13 and April 19 and included a victory in the Stonestreet Lexington with Owendale.

Three jockeys – Javier Castellano, Tyler Gaffalione and Luis Saez – tied for second in the standings with 14 wins each. Castellano won the aforementioned six stakes during the meet and recorded three-win days on April 6 and April 12. Gaffalione’s victories were highlighted by a three-win day on April 18 and victories in the Appalachian with The Mackem Bullet and Dixiana Elkhorn with Bigger Picture. Saez enjoyed a three-win day on April 10 and won the Beaumont (G3) Presented by Keeneland Select aboard Fancy Dress Party. 

Ickymasho (GB) Gives Attfield Fourth Win in Bewitch

Triton Stable’s Ickymasho (GB) turned in a commanding performance to win the 58th running of the $150,000 Bewitch (G3) before a crowd of 17,229 on closing day of Keeneland’s 16-day Spring Meet.

With the victory, trainer Roger Attfield earned his fourth win in the Bewitch. He also won the race with Sweetest Thing (2002), Noble Stella (GER) (2006) and Lady Shakespeare (2010).

Last year, Ickymasho was third in the Bewitch in her North American debut after 30 starts in Europe. She entered this year’s Bewitch following close runner-up efforts in The Very One (G3) and Orchid (G3) at Gulfstream Park in March.

In the Bewitch, Beach Flower took the early lead against seven rivals and covered a half-mile in :50.25. Ickymasho, ridden by Jose Ortiz, took command as the horses passed the finish the first time and clocked the first mile in 1:39.75. She opened as much as 5½ lengths on the field while 2-1 favorite Gaining (GB), under Florent Geroux and making her North American debut, rallied from the back of the field. Gaining could only finish as the runner-up, 1 length behind Ickymasho.

Winning time for the 1½-mile race was 2:31.26.

Coachwhip, just off the leaders throughout, settled for third as a 26-1 longshot, finishing 5¾ lengths behind Gaining.

Peru (GB) was another 2¾ lengths back in fourth and was followed in order by Maroubra (FR), Samuna (FR), Beach Flower and Flower Party (IRE).

The victory was worth $90,000 and increased Ickymasho’s earnings to $283,403 with a record of 39-9-11-4. The Bewitch is Ickymasho’s first win in this country.

Ickymasho is a 7-year-old daughter of Multiplex out of the Mark of Esteem (IRE) mare Icky Woo.

Ickymasho returned $6.80, $3.40 and $2.80. Gaining, ridden by Florent Geroux, paid $3.60 and $3. Coachwhip was third under Tyler Baze and paid $5.60 to show.

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Racing returns to Keeneland on Friday, Oct. 4, opening day of the 17-day Fall Meet.

Keeneland Daily Results and Activity

Results

Friday, April 26
Race# Race Type Purse
Race 1 Claiming – $40,000 $31,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 2 Starter Allowance – $50,000 $38,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 3 Maiden Special Weight $79,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 4 Starter Allowance – $50,000 $38,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 5 Maiden Special Weight $79,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 6 Allowance $81,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 7 Allowance $81,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 8 Allowance Optional Claiming – $100,000 $83,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 9 Bewitch S. $150,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 10 Maiden Claiming – $40,000 $25,000 Overnight Overnight

 

Tooreen Dancer (IRE) Wins Thursday’s Featured Keeneland Sales Purse

Little Red Feather Racing’s Tooreen Dancer (IRE) charged down the stretch to score a 2½-length victory in the $85,000 Keeneland Sales Purse on Thursday’s Horses and Hope Pink Day at Keeneland before a crowd of 10,693.

Ridden by Luis Saez for trainer Phil D’Amato, Tooreen Dancer won the 1-mile race on the firm turf in 1:36.48 on the penultimate day of the Spring Meet. (Click here for a video of the race.)

Tooreen Dancer is a 5-year-old daughter of Vale of York (IRE) out of the Zafonic mare Annmary Girl. She earned $42,060 for Thursday’s victory while improving her record to four wins in six starts with earnings of $127,978.

Tooreen Dancer paid $8.40, $3.60 and $3. Runner-up Sensitive, with Florent Geroux aboard, returned $2.80 and $2.20 as the even-money favorite. Finishing third was Na Pali Spirit, who was ridden by Julien Leparoux and paid $3.20 to show.

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Tomorrow is closing day of Keeneland’s 16-day Spring Meet. First post is 1:05 p.m. The ninth race on the 10-race card is the 58th running of the $150,000 Bewitch (G3), a 1½-mile race for older fillies and mares on the turf.

Keeneland Daily Results and Activity

Results

Thursday, April 25
Race# Race Type Purse
Race 1 Allowance $81,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 2 Allowance Optional Claiming – $80,000 $85,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 3 Allowance $81,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 4 Maiden Claiming – $20,000 $21,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 5 Allowance $81,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 6 Maiden Special Weight $60,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 7 Allowance $85,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 8 Maiden Special Weight $60,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 9 Maiden Special Weight $79,000 Overnight Overnight

 

Keeneland Daily Results and Activity

Results

Wednesday, April 24
Race# Race Type Purse
Race 1 Starter Optional Claiming – $10,000 $20,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 2 Allowance $81,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 3 Maiden Special Weight $60,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 4 Maiden Special Weight $79,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 5 Claiming – $40,000 $30,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 6 Maiden Special Weight $79,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 7 Maiden Special Weight $79,000 Overnight Overnight
Race 8 Allowance $81,000 Overnight Overnight



Final Entries

Friday, April 26
Race# Race Type Purse
Race 1 Claiming – $40,000 $31,000
Race 2 Starter Allowance – $50,000 $38,000
Race 3 Maiden Special Weight $79,000
Race 4 Starter Allowance – $50,000 $38,000
Race 5 Maiden Special Weight $79,000
Race 6 Allowance $81,000
Race 7 Allowance $81,000
Race 8 Allowance Optional Claiming – $100,000 $83,000
Race 9 Bewitch S. $150,000
Race 10 Maiden Claiming – $40,000 $25,000

Keeneland Daily Results and Activity

Early Entries

Friday, April 26 Overnight
Race# Race Type Purse
Race 1 Claiming – $40,000 $31,000
Race 2 Starter Allowance – $50,000 $38,000
Race 3 Maiden Special Weight $79,000
Race 4 Starter Allowance – $50,000 $38,000
Race 5 Maiden Special Weight $79,000
Race 6 Allowance $81,000
Race 7 Allowance $81,000
Race 8 Allowance Optional Claiming – $100,000 $83,000
Race 9 Bewitch S. $150,000
Race 10 Maiden Claiming – $40,000 $25,000

Final Entries

Thursday, April 25
Race# Race Type Purse
Race 1 Allowance $81,000
Race 2 Allowance Optional Claiming – $80,000 $85,000
Race 3 Allowance $81,000
Race 4 Maiden Claiming – $20,000 $21,000
Race 5 Allowance $81,000
Race 6 Maiden Special Weight $60,000
Race 7 Allowance $85,000
Race 8 Maiden Special Weight $60,000
Race 9 Maiden Special Weight $79,000

Barn Notes: Electric Forest Caps Big Day For Brown In Hilliard Lyons-Baird Doubledogdare – Keeneland News

Stonestreet Stables’ Electric Forest, front-running winner of Friday’s Hilliard Lyons-Baird Doubledogdare (G3), is headed to Belmont Park, according to Baldo Hernandez, assistant to trainer Chad Brown.

The stakes victory gave the Brown stable three victories on the day and increased Brown’s lead over Brad Cox to 9-7 in the race for leading trainer with four days to go in the meet, which ends Friday, April 26. Brown, who has one horse entered today and one Wednesday, is seeking his first Keeneland training title. Cox also has one horse entered today and one Wednesday.

Hernandez said Electric Forest came out of the race fine as did Three Chimneys Farm’s Guarana, a 14¾-length winner in her career debut in Friday’s seventh race.

“She is a nice filly and will probably go to Saratoga,” Hernandez said.

Bigger Picture Emerges Late to Win Dixiana Elkhorn

Bigger Picture

Three Diamonds Farm’s Bigger Picture rallied four wide in deep stretch to collar Red Knight and favored Zulu Alpha to post a half-length victory in the 34th running of the $250,000 Dixiana Elkhorn (G2) for 4-year-olds and up before a Saturday afternoon crowd of 17,256.

Trained by Mike Maker and ridden by Tyler Gaffalione, Bigger Picture covered the 1½ miles on a yielding turf course in 2:32.00. The victory was the third in the race for Maker, who won with Dark Cove in 2013 and Da Big Hoss in 2016.

Final Copy led the field of 10 through fractions of :24.45, :50.31, 1:16.36 and 1:41.85 as Bigger Picture saved ground while running in midpack. On the far turn, Red Knight, Zulu Alpha and Tiz a Slam moved at the leader as Bigger Picture waited behind horses.

In the stretch, Final Copy dropped out of contention as did Tiz a Slam, leaving a two-way duel until just inside the sixteenth pole, when Bigger Picture emerged on the scene to draw clear in the final yards.

The victory was worth $150,000 and increased Bigger Picture’s earnings to $1,646,635 with a record of 40-13-7-5. It was his sixth graded stakes victory.

Bigger Picture is an 8-year-old Kentucky-bred gelded son of Badge of Silver out of the Honour and Glory mare Glory Dancer.

Bigger Picture returned $16.60, $7.60 and $4. Red Knight, ridden by Luis Saez, returned $6.60 and $4.20, with Zulu Alpha finishing another half-length back in third under Jose Ortiz and paying $2.40 to show.

It was another half-length back to Tiz a Slam, who was followed in order by Vettori Kin (BRZ), Canessar (FR), Hunter O’Riley, Final Copy, Leitone (CHI) and Soglio.

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Today, Keeneland recognized pioneering female jockey Patti Barton and the 50th anniversary of her first win, which came May 30, 1969 at Pikes Peak Meadows in Colorado. Among the first women to be licensed as jockeys, Barton is the first female rider to win 1,000 races.

Barton, who competed mostly in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky and Illinois, won 1,202 races from 10,199 mounts during her career that continued until 1984. She scored one victory at Keeneland, which came during the 1981 Fall Meet.

Her three children – Leah, Donna and Jerry – all rode races. Donna – now a well-known TV analyst – won 1,083 races from 1987-1998.

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Keeneland is closed tomorrow, Easter Sunday, but will resume racing Wednesday with an eight-race program that begins at 1:05 p.m. ET.

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Quotes from the $250,000 Dixiana Elkhorn (G2)

Tyler Gaffalione (winning rider of Bigger Picture)

“The horse broke good. He put himself in a nice position. We saved ground around both turns. I just followed Jose (Ortiz on Zulu Alpha) when he made his move, and (Bigger Picture) grinded it out. All the credit goes to (trainer) Mike (Maker) and his team; they do a fabulous job.”

On why the jockey has been successful at Keeneland

“Just good opportunities. I get to ride nice horses for good connections. My agent does a great job, so I’m just very thankful.”

Mike Maker (winning trainer)

“I think he was compromised last time by the slow pace (and finished seventh in the March 30 Pan American [G2] at Gulfstream Park).”

Luis Saez (rider of runner-up Red Knight)

“I had a perfect trip. He was traveling good, and he made a good move and just got beat. I saw the winner when he was right there. We just got beat; that was a tough beat.”

Jose Ortiz (rider of 6-5 favorite and third-place finisher Zulu Alpha)

“He digs in hard. He tried very hard. (We had) a little premature move on the backside for a mile-and-a-half (race) but I had no choice, I had to go. I was in my spot and the eight (Red Knight) came a little early – earlier than what I expected.

“That allowed Bigger Picture to go on and make his run. The top three (finishers) can get a mile and a half, and I’ve ridden all three of them. They are very good horses, and very similar. It just depends on who gets the trip, and today Bigger Picture got the better trip.”