Keeneland announced today that Barbara Banke’s Stonestreet has become the signature sponsor of the Spring Meet’s Grade III Lexington Stakes, which be held Saturday, April 15.
Purse money for the Lexington will increase in 2017 from $150,000 to $200,000. The stakes, for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles on the main track, is one of the final prep races on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.
“I am very pleased to be launching this partnership with Keeneland at such an exciting time for the historic Lexington,” Banke said in a news release. “I hope to see it develop into a significant route to the Kentucky Derby. It would be a thrill to see a colt we bred and sold at Keeneland’s Sales Pavilion return here for a spot in the starting gate.”
One of Keeneland’s most storied events, the Lexington has been won by such classic horses as Charismatic, Touch Gold, Hansel and Risen Star.
In 1984, Swale followed his second-place finish in the Lexington with a victory in the Kentucky Derby.
In recent years, the Lexington has featured such talented horses as Collected, Divining Rod, Mr Speaker, Square Eddie, General Election, Showing Up, Scrimshaw and Proud Citizen.
The Lexington was first contested by 2-year-olds during Keeneland’s inaugural meet in October 1936. The race was run as an overnight handicap for 3-year-olds and older horses from 1938-1941. It returned to the stakes schedule in 1984 when officials elevated the Calumet Purse — an important allowance race for 3-year-olds — to an added-money event and renamed it the Lexington Stakes.
“Stonestreet is synonymous with innovation and leadership in the Thoroughbred industry, and we look forward to further enhancing the Lexington through this exciting partnership,” Keeneland Vice President of Racing and Sales Bob Elliston said.
Banke, together with her husband, the late Jess Jackson, established Stonestreet, which now comprises three farms in Central Kentucky, in 2005. Stonestreet Training & Rehabilitation Center near Ocala, Fla., opened in 2012.
Stonestreet is a leading consignor and buyer at the Keeneland sales, and ranks among Thoroughbred racing’s top owners and breeders.
Alone and in partnership, Stonestreet has campaigned 2007-2008 Horse of the Year Curlin, winner of the 2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic and Preakness and 2008 Dubai World Cup, and 2009 Horse of the Year and Preakness winner Rachel Alexandra, both members of the Racing Hall of Fame.