Keeneland, in partnership with Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum's Shadwell Farm, announced Tuesday that the 29th running of the Grade I Shadwell Turf Mile on Oct. 4 will carry a purse of $1 million, making it Keeneland's first stakes worth seven figures.
Shadwell Farm has sponsored the Turf Mile, for horses 3 years old and older, since 1999. The purse was increased to $750,000 in 2012.
"Shadwell Farm has played a very special role in Keeneland's history for 30 years, actively supporting our racing program as both a sponsor and owner, and as a leading buyer at our sales," said Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason. "We sincerely thank Sheikh Hamdan and (vice president and general manager) Rick Nichols for their commitment to Thoroughbred racing, to Central Kentucky and to Keeneland."
The Shadwell Turf Mile, which serves as the cornerstone of Keeneland's signature Fall Stars Weekend, is part of the Breeders' Cup Challenge Series, with the winner automatically qualifying for the Breeders' Cup Mile. The Shadwell Turf Mile has been won by such champions as two-time defending Horse of the Year Wise Dan, Gio Ponti (twice), Favorite Trick, Itsallgreektome and Steinlen and major stakes winners Court Vision, Thorn Song, Perfect Soul and Landseer.
Dale Romans-trainee Silver Max upset Wise Dan in last year's Shadwell Turf Mile after the race was taken off the grass and contested over the main Polytrack because of heavy rainfall that afternoon.
"Sheikh Hamdan and all of us at Shadwell have enjoyed working with Keeneland to develop the Shadwell Turf Mile," Nichols said. "A special tribute to the late Howard Battle who, as Keeneland's racing secretary, worked very hard in the early days of sponsorship to elevate the Turf Mile from a Grade III to a Grade I event. Sheikh Hamdan has always felt that our best breeding stock comes from horses that compete successfully at a mile. Keeneland has provided the opportunity and the stage for him to develop a world-class race at that distance that will draw and test horses from all over the globe."
In 2012, Shadwell commissioned a sculptor to create a one-of-a kind trophy for the Shadwell Turf Mile featuring a majestic bronze falcon modeled after Sheikh Hamdan's prize falcon, Nayef. Each year, the winning owner receives a replica of the perpetual trophy.
Alicia Wincze Hughes: (859) 231-1676. Blog: horseracing.bloginky.com. Twitter: @horseracinghl.