2012 spring race meeting proved to be an enormously successful finale
for President Nick Nicholson, posting several records for attendance and
wagering and boasting field sizes that are among the largest in the
country. More importantly, it also marked the sixth consecutive spring
meeting in which there were no catastrophic breakdowns during racing on
Keeneland’s all-weather main track.
believe our success directly correlates to our dedication to safety,”
said Nicholson. “Providing the safest environment possible for our
equine and human athletes is something we strive to do each and every
day. Safety is a significant part of everything we do and I think it is
resonating with our fans.”
this spring’s 15-day meeting, attendance totaled a record 269,292, for
an average of 17,953 per day. These figures eclipse the previous records
of 250,163 in total attendance and daily average of 14,715 set during
last fall’s 17-day meeting.
a first, Keeneland carded 12 races on Toyota Blue Grass (G1) Day on
April 14, resulting in a record single-day all-sources handle of
$21,647,378, compared to the previous record of $19,246,840 set on April
14, 2007—also a Toyota Blue Grass Day when 10 races were carded. Other
mutuel handle records set this spring include:
single-day attendance—40,617 fans attended this year’s Toyota Blue
Grass Stakes Day, April 14, crushing the previous record of 33,821 set
on Saturday, April 21, 2007;
Race Wagering Record—$1,925,900 was wagered on the Toyota Blue Grass;
the previous record was $1,924,646 wagered on the Toyota Blue Grass on
April 14, 2001;
Exacta Pool—$1,180,893 wagered on the Toyota Blue Grass, surpassing the
previous record of $1,138,124 wagered on the Toyota Blue Grass in 2008;
· Largest Super High Five Pool—$81,032 wagered on Wednesday, April 11, compared to $74,542 wagered on April 15, 2011.
this month, Nicholson announced plans to retire on September 1.
Nicholson has been the President and CEO of Keeneland since 2000 and is
widely credited for guiding Keeneland through some difficult
times—including multiple industry downturns caused by two global
recessions and the outbreak of Mare Reproductive Loss Syndrome. Despite
those setbacks, Nicholson ushered in a number of innovations, including a
major track renovation and the installation of an all-weather surface
on its main track in 2006—a move that made Keeneland one of the safest,
most modern racetracks in the world.
has been a wonderful tenure for me here at Keeneland and I am grateful
for the opportunity to be part of an organization that is so well
respected in the community and in the industry,” Nicholson said. “And
because we have a such strong, cohesive team in place, I leave knowing
Keeneland is in great hands.”
Nicholson will be succeeded by Keeneland’s current Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Bill Thomason.
became the first horse since Round Table in 1957 to win the Breeders’
Futurity (now the Grade 1 Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity) and go on to win
the Blue Grass. Owned by Jerry Crawford’s Donegal Racing, Dullahan
outdueled favorite and reigning two-year-old champion Hansen in a
thrilling stretch run to win Keeneland’s signature Kentucky Derby (G1)
Morton Fink’s Wise Dan won the $150,000 Ben Ali (G3) on Sunday, April 22, setting a 1 1/8-mile track record in the process.
Julien Leparoux was the meet’s leading jockey with 23 wins, earning his
fifth spring meet title and his eighth title overall. On Friday, April
20, Leparoux tied a longstanding record when he won six races on the
card. He now shares that record with jockeys Randy Romero, who won six
races on April 7, 1990 and Craig Perret, who won six races on April 18,
1990. Leparoux has 279 career wins at Keeneland and ranks fifth on the
list of the track’s all-time leading jockeys.
“It’s always special,” Leparoux said. “It’s Keeneland, so it’s great to win a meet here.”
and Sarah Ramsey dominated the owner standings with 7 wins, including a
victory with Lonesome Street in the $175,000 Commonwealth (G2). This
was the 10th Keeneland leading owner title for the Ramseys, who have now
won five spring titles (2004 [tie], 2006, 2010 [tie], 2011, and 2012)
and five fall titles (2000 [tie], 2002, 2007 [tie], 2008 and 2009).
Wesley Ward notched his first training title at Keeneland with nine
wins. Ward earned two stakes victories with Gypsy Robin in the $150,000
Beaumont Stakes (G2) and longshot All Squared Away in the $200,000
Coolmore Lexington Stakes (G3).
to win a race here is unbelievable,” Ward said. “I come from humble
beginnings, and eventually made it to win some races at some of the
major meets. Words can’t describe it.”
has been a strong meet with great racing,” said Vice President of
Racing Rogers Beasley. “We are proud that the top two Kentucky Derby
horses raced here and another Derby contender worked here before heading
to Churchill Downs for the remainder of his training. We also wish to
thank the owners, trainers, jockeys and fans who are such an important
part of our meets. We appreciate their loyalty and look forward to
seeing them in the fall.”