Keeneland plans record $8.75 million in purses for fall stakes

Keeneland  plans record $8.75 million in purses for fall stakes
Photo: Candice Chavez/Eclipse Sportswire

Before Keeneland hosts the Breeders’ Cup for the third time, the track will offer 22 stakes worth a record $8.75 million during its fall meet.

The 17-day season from Oct. 7-29 will open with 11 stakes – nine of which are “win and you’re in” events as part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series – during the signature three-day Fall Stars weekend. Keeneland has adjusted several stakes on the schedule to attract horses bound for the Breeders’ Cup, most notably moving the Jessamine Stakes (G2) to opening day.

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The meet continues an exceptional year at Keeneland, which awarded a record $7.7 million for 22 stakes during the 15-day spring meet in April, including $1.5 million from the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund. Full fields drove all-sources handle to a record $219 million.

In the fall, Keeneland will present 12 stakes on grass and 10 on dirt while offering multiple stakes on six racing days. Purses for every stakes have increased and several have doubled. The state fund will contribute $1.3 million to the stakes purses, pending approval from the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.

The season’s richest race is the $1 million Turf Mile (G1), a Breeders’ Cup Challenge race that anchors opening Saturday of Fall Stars weekend. Sponsored for the first time by Coolmore, the premier turf stakes is again worth seven figures – a status it held from 2014, when it was Keeneland’s first million-dollar race, through 2019.

“Keeneland has planned a fall meet that promises to be better than ever,” Keeneland president and CEO Shannon Arvin said. “Adjustments made to the season last year, including increasing the number of stakes to 22 and boosting the final days with multiple stakes, produced an extremely successful meet from start to finish. This year, even higher stakes purses indicate the strength of the Kentucky circuit while helping Keeneland set the stage for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, which we are proud to host for the third time.”

During Fall Stars weekend, each winner of a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series race receives an automatic starting position and free entry into the World Championships at Keeneland on Nov. 4-5.

Opening day will feature three stakes, all "win and you’re in" events: the $500,000 Alcibiades (G1) (Juvenile Fillies); the $350,000 Phoenix (G2) (Sprint); and the $350,000 Jessamine (G2) (Juvenile Fillies Turf).

Keeneland moved the Jessamine to opening day this year after previously running the race on the following Wednesday. The new date will increase attention for the race and place the race exactly four weeks before the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. The race also will be included in the popular Keeneland Turf Pick 3 wager on opening day.

Joining the Turf Mile (Mile) as Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series races on opening Saturday are the $600,000 Breeders’ Futurity (G1) (Juvenile); and $350,000 Thoroughbred Club of America (G2) (Filly and Mare Sprint).

Other stakes that day are the $600,000 First Lady (G1) and the $350,000 Woodford (G2). Both stakes are expected to attract Breeders’ Cup hopefuls.

Sunday of Fall Stars Weekend presents three stakes – all Breeders’ Cup Challenge races: the $600,000 Spinster (G1) (Distaff); the $350,000 Bourbon (G2) (Juvenile Turf); and $250,000 Indian Summer (Listed) (Juvenile Turf Sprint).

Stakes on the second week of the meet kick off on Oct. 14 with the $300,000 Sycamore (G3) for older males racing 1 1/2 miles on turf. Keeneland moved the Sycamore a week earlier on the calendar to serve as an option for horses pointing at the Breeders’ Cup Turf.

The following day will offer the meet’s sixth Grade 1 stakes, the $600,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup. To mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, Great British Racing International and QIPCO British Champions Series, on behalf of British racing, will present the winning owner of the Keeneland invitational a specially designed strawberry dish produced by royal jewelers Garrard. The trophy is commemorating the Queen’s international impact on Thoroughbred racing.

The third stakes that weekend is the $300,000 Franklin (G3) on Oct. 16.

Stakes action resumes the following Saturday, Oct 22, with the $350,000 Raven Run (G2) and the $250,000 Perryville, which was upgraded to Listed status for 2022. The following day is the $300,000 Dowager (G3).

The meet will close with two multiple stakes days beginning with the $300,000 Rubicon Valley View (G3) and $200,000 Myrtlewood on Friday, Oct. 28. Closing day will feature the $350,000 Hagyard Fayette (G2), the $300,000 Bryan Station (G3) and the $200,000 Bowman Mill.

The Bryan Station was upgraded to a Grade 3 event for 2022.

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