Keeneland announced Thursday that the Lexington racetrack will cut purses for its fall meet by more than $1 million, including a 15 percent reduction in stakes purses.
The schedule of 18 stakes races will offer $4.35 million this fall, compared to $5.125 million last fall, said Jay Blanton, Keeneland spokesman.
"Clearly, we're having to make adjustments to the greater economic reality," he said.
Keeneland's director of racing, Rogers Beasley, said in the announcement that the "vast majority" of the cuts were coming from stakes races, rather than lower-level races. Two stakes races were eliminated.
"We are making these reductions after a great deal of thought and strategy," Beasley said. "Our goal is to maintain a commitment to the highest quality racing and purses within the constraints of a very challenging economy."
Unlike most other racetracks, Keeneland's purses have been boosted by profits from the annual auctions of yearlings and broodmares. But those sales have been down drastically in the last few years.
Wagering, the other major source of funding for purses, is also down dramatically in the United States.
Tracks in many states have supplemented purses with income from slots, but efforts to bring alternative forms of gambling to Kentucky have failed.
This is at least the third cut in purses, following a $600,000 reduction at this year's spring meet and a $275,000 reduction last fall. The track said no cuts are planned for next April's meet.
The track also picked up new sponsors — Abu Dhabi and The Greenbrier Resort — for Thoroughbred races, and a new Arabian race, sponsored by the Emirates Equestrian Federation.
Despite the cutbacks, Keeneland will offer some of the highest average daily purses in the country, at more than $500,000 a day, so Blanton said the track expects the fall meet will continue to draw top horses, trainers, owners and jockeys, particularly in advance of the Breeders' Cup, which is Nov. 5 and 6 at Churchill Downs in Louisville.
Keeneland will host nine Breeders' Cup Challenge races, which are automatic qualifiers for the world championships of Thoroughbred racing.
"Even in these challenging economic times, we have been able to put together a month of the best that racing in North America has to offer," Beasley said. "Our opening FallStars Weekend, in particular, will offer some of the most compelling racing in America and provide a chance for fans to watch some of the top contenders for the Breeders' Cup in action."
Keeneland's fall meet is scheduled for Oct. 8-30.
Oct. 8: Darley Alcibiades (Grade 1), $400,000, 2-year-old fillies, 11⁄16 miles.
Oct. 8: Phoenix (Grade 3), $175,000, including $25,000 in Breeders' Cup funds, 3-year-olds and up, 6 furlongs.
Oct. 9: Shadwell Turf Mile (Grade 1), $600,000, 3-year-olds and up, 1 mile (turf).
Oct. 9: Dixiana Breeders' Futurity (Grade 1), $400,000, 2-year-olds, 11⁄16 miles.
Oct. 9: Abu Dhabi First Lady (Grade 1), $400,000, 3-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, 1 mile (turf).
Oct. 9: Thoroughbred Club of America (Grade 2), $200,000, 3-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, 6 furlongs.
Oct. 9: Woodford (Grade 3), $100,000, 3-year-olds and up, 5½ furlongs (turf).
Oct. 9: The President of the United Arab Emirates Cup (Grade 1), $50,000, 4-year-olds and up, open, 1¼ miles (Arabians).
Oct. 10: Juddmonte Spinster (Grade 1), $500,000, 3-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, 11⁄8 miles.
Oct. 10: Bourbon (Grade 3), $100,000, 2-year-olds, 11⁄16 miles (turf).
Oct. 14: JPMorgan Chase Jessamine (Listed), $150,000, 2-year-old fillies, 11⁄16 miles (turf).
Oct. 15: Buffalo Trace Franklin County (Listed), $100,000-added, 3-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, 5½ furlongs (turf).
Oct. 16: Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (Grade 1), $400,000, 3-year-old fillies, 11⁄8 miles (turf) (by invitation).
Oct. 21: Sycamore (Grade 3), $100,000, 3-year-olds and up, 1½ miles (turf).
Oct. 22: Pin Oak Valley View (Grade 3), $150,000, 3-year-old fillies, 11⁄16 miles (turf).
Oct. 23: Lexus Raven Run (Grade 2), $250,000, 3-year-old fillies, 7 furlongs.
Oct. 24: Rood and Riddle Dowager (Listed), $125,000, 3-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, 1½ miles (turf).
Oct. 30: The Greenbrier Fayette (Grade 2), $150,000, 3-year-olds and up, 11⁄8 miles.