Horses

Blue Grass, Ashland headline Keeneland spring stakes schedule

Patrick Garoiu took a photo as horses were worked during morning workouts at Keeneland Race Course ahead of a recent Spring Meet. The 2016 Spring Meet at Keeneland takes place April 8-29.
Patrick Garoiu took a photo as horses were worked during morning workouts at Keeneland Race Course ahead of a recent Spring Meet. The 2016 Spring Meet at Keeneland takes place April 8-29. cbertram@herald-leader.com

Keeneland announced a $4.225 million stakes schedule Wednesday for its 2016 Spring Meet that offers 16 stakes, led by the Grade I, $1 million Toyota Blue Grass and Grade I, $500,000 Central Bank Ashland. Coolmore Stud has been announced as the new sponsor of the Grade I, $350,000 Jenny Wiley, which carries a purse increase of $50,000, and the Grade II $200,000 Shakertown has upgraded for this year with a purse increase of $75,000.

The Spring Meet, to be held April 8-29, will offer racing Wednesdays through Sundays.

The Spring Meet opens Friday, April 8, with the Grade III, $100,000 Transylvania, a 1  1/16 -mile race for 3-year-olds on turf.

For the second consecutive year, Keeneland’s premier 3-year-old races, the Toyota Blue Grass and the Central Bank Ashland, lead five stakes run on opening Saturday of the Spring Meet. Featured on the undercard are the Grade I, $300,000 Madison for fillies and mares going 7 furlongs; the Grade III, $250,000 Commonwealth for older horses at 7 furlongs; and the Shakertown, for 3-year-olds and older at 5½ furlongs on the turf.

The Blue Grass, for 3-year-olds at 1  1/8 miles, and the Ashland, for 3-year-old fillies going 1  1/16 miles, are worth 100 points each to the winners on the Road to the Kentucky Derby and Road to the Kentucky Oaks, respectively. Last year’s Ashland winner, Lovely Maria, went on to win the $1 million Kentucky Oaks.

Stakes action during the Spring Meet’s second week begins with the Grade III, $125,000 Appalachian, moved to Thursday, April 14, and held three days earlier than in prior years. The Appalachian is a 1-mile race on the turf for 3-year-old fillies.

The following day, older horses will compete in the Grade I, $300,000 Maker’s 46 Mile, one of the sport’s key turf stakes early in the year.

Anchoring the second Saturday of racing, April 16, is the Jenny Wiley, a 1  1/16 -mile race for fillies and mares on the turf. The day also includes the Grade III, $200,000 Ben Ali for older horses racing 1  1/8 miles for a purse that was increased $50,000; the Grade III, $150,000 Lexington, a 1  1/16 -mile race that offers 3-year-olds points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby; and the $100,000 Giant’s Causeway, a 5½-furlong turf race for fillies and mares.

The second weekend of the Spring Meet concludes April 17 with the Grade III, $150,000 Adena Springs Beaumont for 3-year-old fillies over the Beard Course distance of 7 furlongs and 184 feet.

Older horses are featured in stakes competition during the final days of the Spring Meet. Keeneland hosts the Grade III, $100,000 Hilliard Lyons Doubledogdare for fillies and mares at 1  1/16 miles on April 22; Grade II, $250,000 Dixiana Elkhorn at 1½ miles on the turf on April 23; and Grade III, $150,000 Bewitch for fillies and mares racing 1½ miles on the turf on closing day, April 29.

“This stakes schedule reflects the top quality of the Thoroughbreds who race here in April and the importance of Keeneland’s races as early season targets of the sport’s best horses and horsemen,” Keeneland vice president of racing Rogers Beasley said in a release. “The success of the recent Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Keeneland heightened enthusiasm for racing here and introduced many horsemen to our world-class facilities and lucrative racing program.”

Gates open each day at 11 a.m. Post time for the first race is 1:05 p.m.

Keeneland 2016 Spring Stakes Schedule

Date

Stakes

Division

Distance

April 8

$100,000 Transylvania (G3) Presented by Keeneland Select

3YOs

1 1/16 Miles (T)

April 9

$1 Million Toyota Blue Grass (G1)

3YOs

1 1/8 Miles

April 9

$500,000 Central Bank Ashland (G1)

3YO Fillies

1 1/16 Miles

April 9

$300,000 Madison (G1)

4YOs & Up, F&M

7 Furlongs

April 9

$200,000 Shakertown (G2)

3YOs & Up

5½ Furlongs (T)

April 9

$250,000 Commonwealth (G3)

4YOs & Up

7 Furlongs

April 14

$125,000 Appalachian (G3) Presented by Japan Racing Association

3YO Fillies

1 Mile (T)

April 15

$300,000 Maker’s 46 Mile (G1)

4YOs & Up

1 Mile (T)

April 16

$350,000 Coolmore Jenny Wiley (G1)

4YOs & Up, F&M

1 1/16 Miles (T)

April 16

$200,000 Ben Ali (G3)

4YOs & Up

1 1/8 Miles

April 16

$150,000 Lexington (G3)

3YOs

1 1/16 Miles

April 16

$100,000 Giant’s Causeway (L)

4YOs & Up, F&M

5½ Furlongs (T)

April 17

$150,000 Adena Springs Beaumont (G3)

3YO Fillies

7 Furlongs, 184’

April 22

$100,000 Hilliard Lyons Doubledogdare (G3)

4YOs & Up, F&M

1 1/16 Miles

April 23

$250,000 Dixiana Elkhorn (G2)

4YOs & Up

1½ Miles (T)

April 29

$150,000 Bewitch (G3)

4YOs & Up, F&M

1½ Miles (T)

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