News and STORIES

Keeneland in the Spring

Author: Ryan Knuppel
Published: Friday March 19, 2021
We’re midway through March, which means March Madness is upon us. However, for horse racing fans, especially in the Bluegrass, this means Keeneland racing is near. Fifteen racing days spread out 21 days with Eighteen stakes highlight 2021 Spring Meet. Barns from all over the country pour into Lexington for the prestigious breeders’ meet.

Fans will be allowed on a limited basis in 2021 versus the fan-less Covid year of 2020. Keeneland kicks off the meet with Opening day, often referred to as College Day, April 2, and will feature two stakes- The Grade 3 Kentucky Utilities Transylvania Stakes and the Grade Beaumont Stakes.
Stakes Saturday

The weekend gets even better as Saturday features 6 Graded Stakes races, including:

  • The 200K Grade 3 Commonwealth features for year old and up sprinters going seven furlongs
  • The 200K Grade 2 Appalachian is a Grade III American Thoroughbred horse race for three-year-old fillies at one mile on the turf
  • The 200K Grade 2 Shakertown is for horses age three and older over a distance of ​5 1⁄2 furlongs on the turf 
  • The 800K Grade 2 Blue Grass Stakes- Keeneland’s feature Derby Prep- for three years only going 9 furlongs
  • The 400K Grade 1 Madison for fillies and mares going 7 furlongs on dirt
  • The 300K Grade 1 Ashland Stakes is for three-year-old fillies and preparation for the Kentucky Oaks

The following weekend features a pair of Grade 1’s; The Grade 1 Jenny Wiley on turf for older fillies and the Grade 1 Makers Mark Mile on turf for older colts. Chad Brown has dominated the Jenny Wiley in recent years, winning the last 3 years with Rushing fall and Sistercharlie, and I’m sure he will have several options for this year’s race.

War of Will captured his first Grade 1 turf victory following his triple crown bid with an impressive win in the Makers Mark Mile. Both races figure to gain a lot of attention from top American Turf horses, many of whom will be seen again later this year in the Breeders Cup.  

Rounding out the 2021 Stakes schedule:

  • April 16: G3 Doubledogdare Stakes for older fillies and mares run over a mile and a sixteenth on dirt
  • April 17: G2 Elkhorn Stakes for older horses over a mile and a half on turf
  • April 23: G3 Bewitch Stakes for older fillies and marries over a mile and a half on turf

The Babies

The Spring meet also features a look into a new crop of two-year-old’s. Wes Ward will have several juveniles ready to show off their incredible speed.

His notable two-year-old in recent years include: No Nay Never, Eclipse award winner Judy The Beauty, Hootenanny, Four Wheel Drive, and Lady Aurelia, to name a few. Ward has routinely used Keeneland’s maiden races as a prelude to the Royal Ascot meeting in London.
2020 Stats
Due to Covid, Keeneland 2020 Spring Meet was moved to an abbreviated five-day summer meet. The meet featured Keeneland’s top 10 stakes from the spring meet. The fall meet ran as scheduled in October and featured some fresh faces leading the way.

Jockey Tyler Gaffalione took home the riding crown with 24 victories from 112 starts last fall. Defeated Florent Geroux (16) and Ricardo Santana Jr. (13) to earn his first Keeneland riding title. Trainer Brad Cox also won his first training title with 15 winners from 39 starts. He narrowly defeated Mike Maker (12) and Steve Asmussen (11) to claim the crown.