Five Grade 1 stakes, among them the Toyota Blue Grass, Central Bank Ashland and the newly upgraded Jenny Wiley Stakes, headline the 16 stakes worth $3.625 million slated for Keeneland's 2012 spring race meeting.
The 15-day spring meeting will be held Friday, April 6 through Friday, April 27. There is no racing on Mondays, Tuesdays or Easter Sunday (April 8). Post time for the first race is 1:15 p.m. daily.
Five Grade 1 stakes will be featured opening week, bookended by Keeneland's signature classic preps, the Central Bank Ashland, a 1 1/16-mile stakes for three-year-old fillies on April 7 which carries a purse of $500,000, elevated from $400,000 in 2011, and the $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass, a 1 1/8-mile event for three-year-old colts, scheduled for April 14.
Many of the nation's top handicap horses will be showcased in the $300,000 Vinery Madison Stakes (G1), for older fillies and mares going seven furlongs on April 12, and the $300,000 Maker's 46 Mile (G1), for older horses at a mile on the turf on April 13. Formerly known as the Maker's Mark Mile, the stakes has been renamed in honor of Maker's 46 bourbon, which is the distillery's first new product in more than 50 years.
Three other graded stakes will form a strong undercard on Toyota Blue Grass Day, including the Jenny Wiley, for older fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on the turf. The Jenny Wiley was promoted to Grade 1 status this year by the American Graded Stakes Committee of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association and received a purse hike of $100,000 to $300,000.
“The racing world converges at Keeneland in the spring, and we are proud that our stakes schedule will once again provide lucrative opportunities for horsemen and exciting wagering options for our fans,” said Keeneland Vice President of Racing W.B. Rogers Beasley. “The elevation of the Jenny Wiley to Grade 1 status, and purse increases for both it and the Central Bank Ashland are very positive steps. We continue to pursue initiatives to grow our racing program in order to remain competitive in today's very challenging environment.”
Rounding out Toyota Blue Grass Day are two sprint stakes for three-year-olds and up – the $175,000 Commonwealth Stakes (G2) at seven furlongs, and the $100,000 Shakertown Stakes (G3) at 5½ furlongs on the turf.
Keeneland will host an additional Kentucky Derby prep with its $200,000 Coolmore Lexington Stakes (G3), for three-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles on Saturday, April 21.
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