Near-Record Crowd Sparks Increased Handle On Keeneland’s Opening Day Card

by | 10.07.2017 | 8:02am
Heavenly Love (Malibu Moon) wins The Darley Alcibiades (G1) at Keeneland on 10.6.2017. Julien Leparoux up, Mark Casse trainer, Debby Oxley owner.

Indian summer weather and exciting racing combined to produce a near-record crowd of 19,204 for opening day of the Keeneland Fall Meet. On-track wagering rose eight percent to $1,470,920, and all-sources handle increased two percent to $8,756,822.

Debby Oxley's homebred Heavenly Love shook clear at the top of the stretch and drew off to win the 66th running of the $400,000 Darley Alcibiades (G1) for 2-year-old fillies by 5½ lengths over favored Princess Warrior.

Also on Friday, Robert LaPenta, Southern Springs Stables and Head of Plains Partners' Whitmore won the 165th running of the $250,000 Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix (G2).

In Friday's third race, Robby Albarado became the third jockey to win 500 races at Keeneland when he guided Breeze Easy's Silver Defense ($13.80) to a head victory.

Albarado, who scored his first Keeneland victory during the 1996 Fall Meet, is the third-leading rider here by wins behind Pat Day (918) and Don Brumfield (716). Albarado has been the leading rider four times (Spring 2002, Spring 2003, Fall 2008 and Fall 2009).

“It's a big honor, because considering all the great jockeys that come through Keeneland, it's a feat in itself,” Albarado said while holding his young son, Liam. “Just to continue to ride for 27 years of my career and continue to ride at the highest level is such a pleasure and an honor – I mean, I can't explain it. And (having) Pat Day in front of me and Don Brumfield in front of me – Hall of Famers – it's just special. It's a special place here.”

Asked about his favorite Keeneland memory, Albarado answered, “Every win. Fans don't discriminate whether it's a claiming race or a stakes race. They treat it just like every one (is the same). Just the fans here, the quality of the horses – it's everyone's favorite place.”

Keeneland honored 95-year-old Elias “Shug” White, the oldest known horseman from the old Kentucky Association track, which was located in downtown Lexington and operated for more than 100 years.

White was just 11 years old when he exercised racehorses at the Kentucky Association track, which closed in 1933. Keeneland opened three years later.

  • billy

    I cringe seeing the connections names….makes me think of ce and what he’s been through and been put through due to the actions of this kind quite disheartening to watch it unfold…also makes me a firm believer that racing at 2 is just too much….sorry if I pissed anyone off

  • Ida Lee

    Robby has never been one of my favorite jockeys …. too much drama …. but, since he was Curlin’s jockey, and everything Curlin is special to me, I congratulate Robby on his career and especially for giving us a great ride with the Mighty Curlin ….

  • Michael Cusortelli

    On-track handle up 8 percent, all-sources handle up 2 percent. So much for the theory that increased takeout adversely affects handle.

    • Alden Crissey

      Wait for the real story….

      • Michael Cusortelli

        I hope you’re right.

  • Rick Blaine

    Still waiting for the press release on how the richest day of the fall meet was off nearly 14% Saturday and how Sunday was down a devastating 31%. Wagering on Keeneland’s make-or-break opening weekend was off 15%.

    • burner5

      See Hollywood box office and NFL ratings -people can make a difference.

    • theosmachine

      Wow great news. Glad the bettors are putting their foot down.

  • burner5

    Keenelands not getting any of my $$$ this meet. I even canceled my yearly trip from MI. Max takeout is no way to when fans. I especially resent it from Kee. because it is a change from the fan friendly track I love. I hope I am not alone in this mini boycott. One ant is an annoyance but a thousand ants are a problem.

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