Eight races during Keeneland’s Fall Meet opening weekend are “win and you’re in” contests for the Breeders’ Cup, upping the ante on what is expected to an exciting 17 days of racing at the track beginning Friday.
Headlining Saturday’s card will be the $1 million Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile featuring American Patriot, who gave 2017 Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Todd Pletcher a Keeneland record 51st stakes win in the Maker’s 46 Mile last spring.
A Shadwell win offers automatic qualification to the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Mile (Grade 1) to be run during the Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Del Mar on Nov. 3-4. The probables for the 14 Shadwell posts include Divisidero a two-time winner of the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Classic at Churchill Downs trained by Buff Bradley.
Here’s what else is there to watch for at Keeneland this meet:
Fall Stars Weekend
In addition to the Shadwell, $2.75 million in stakes races break from the gates this weekend, with tickets to the Breeders’ Cup being punched each day.
Friday’s $400,000 Grade 1 Darley Alcibiades for 2-year-old fillies could generate an early hopeful for the Kentucky Oaks next spring. The winner of the Alcibiades gains entry into the $2 million Grade 1 14 Hands Winery Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. Kelly’s Humor, trained by Brad Cox and ridden by Javier Castellano, won her first two starts at Ellis Park before rallying to finish second last month in the Pocahontas at Churchill Downs.
Looking for a potential road-to-the-Derby horse? Check out Sunday’s 104th running of the $500,000 Grade 1 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity for 2-year-olds. The winner moves on to the $2 million Grade 1 Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Probables for the race include Larry Rivelli’s unbeaten The Tabulator, who won the Grade 1 Iroquois Stakes last time out at Churchill Downs; the Ian Wilkes-trained Bourbon Resolution, who has hit the board in each of his first three starts; D. Wayne Lukas’ Bravazo, a winner last month at Churchill; and Dale Romans’ Free Drop Billy, who ran second in the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga.
Also on the card Sunday, the 62nd running of the $500,000 Juddmonte Spinster for fillies and mares checks in as one of the biggest money events of the meet and a prelude to the $2 million Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Distaff. Probables include Yaddo Stakes winner Bar of Gold, trained by John Kimmel; Rusty Arnold’s Romantic Vision, winner of the Grade 3 Locust Grove Stakes at Churchill her last time out; and Brad Cox’s Tiger Moth, a winner in the Grade 3 August Groupie Doll Stakes at Ellis Park.
The hardy and adventurous can try to get in both Keeneland and Kentucky’s home football game against Missouri on Saturday.
Keeneland’s first post is 1:05 p.m., its last is 6:18 p.m., and the Cats’ kickoff is 7:30 p.m., allowing plenty of time to take in almost a full day of racing before heading to the game.
Lextran will run shuttles every half-hour from Kroger Field at University and Cooper drives to Keeneland and back from 11 a.m. to 6:40 p.m., so you can park near the stadium (in your approved parking spot) in the morning and shuttle to and from Keeneland. There will be no postgame shuttle to Keeneland, so plan accordingly.
The game time for UK’s Oct. 28 game has not yet been set, but it could offer another opportunity on the last day of the meet.
There are several special events during the meet. They include:
Make-A-Wish Day, Oct. 12: Keeneland celebrates its 10th Make-A-Wish day by granting wishes for 10 children who will present the trophies after each race as a part of their VIP experience.
Buffalo Trace giveaway, Oct. 13: Enter to win a VIP Buffalo Trace Distillery experience that includes a private behind-the-scenes distillery tour, lunch with master distiller Harlen Wheatley, and a private whiskey tasting. The first 2,000 to register will receive a free Buffalo Trace drawstring bag.
Jockey autograph signing, Oct. 13: Early-arriving racing fans can meet current and retired jockeys and participate in an autograph signing to benefit the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund. From 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Keeneland coloring book signing and contest, Oct. 14: Illustrator Caleb Faires will sign his hand-illustrated Keeneland coloring book.Fans can enter a coloring book contest that celebrates the work by uploading a photo of their finished piece to Instagram: Tag @shopkeeneland and include the hashtag #keenelandcoloringbook. Keeneland will announce winners Oct. 19 via Instagram.
Kids Club Family Day, Oct. 15: Keeneland Kids Club members and their families receive free admission and access to reserved grandstand seating. Children’s activities will be noon to 3 p.m. in the North Terrace.
College Scholarship Day, Oct. 20: Admission is free with a college ID. Full-time students can register to win one of ten $1,000 scholarships and prizes from local vendors awarded after each of the day’s races. Music, free snacks and prize drawings will be held in Keeneland’s College Zone in the North Terrace. In partnership with the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association, the program began in October 2002 and has distributed nearly $600,000 in Kentucky, including nearly $300,000 at Keeneland.
Heroes Day, Oct. 22: Members of the military (active duty and veterans), first responders — law enforcement, firefighters and EMTs — and their families receive free admission and access to reserved grandstand seats. The Family Zone will offer free lunch and children’s activities for those families from noon to 4 p.m. in the North Terrace. Local heroes will be recognized in the Winner’s Circle throughout the afternoon.
Seeblue (UK) Day, Oct. 27: UK students, alumni, faculty and staff receive free admission and access to reserved grandstand seating with valid UK IDs. The UK Wildcat mascot, cheerleaders and band will be on hand.
Keeneland Fall Meet
When: Friday-Oct. 28 (no racing Mondays and Tuesdays)
First post: 1:05 p.m. each racing day