Keeneland revitalizes 2022 Spring Meet with record $7.7M in stakes, new schedule

January 8, 2022

Toyota Blue Grass returns to $1 million; Central Bank Ashland moves to opening day

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Keeneland revitalizes the 2022 Spring Meet with record $7.7 million in awards. 19 stakes will be run during the meet to be held from April 8-29. The new schedule features increased purses for all stakes and significant changes to the season’s two historic classic preps: The purse of the Toyota Blue Grass (G2) for 3-year-olds on the first Saturday of the season has been restored to $1 million, and the Central Bank Ashland (G1) for 3-year-old fillies has moved to opening day of the meet and is worth a record $600,000.

Contributing to the stakes purse increases is a total of $1.5 million available from the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund (KTDF), pending approval from the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. Purses for some stakes doubled for 2022, most prominently the Maker’s Mark Mile (G1) increased from $300,000 to $600,000, Stonestreet Lexington (G3) from $200,000 to $400,000 and Ben Ali (G3) from $150,000 to $300,000. Others, such as the Kentucky Utilities Transylvania (G3), Beaumont (G3) Presented by Keeneland Select and Shakertown (G2) received significant boosts.

During the 15-day Spring Meet, Keeneland will contest a total of 10 stakes on grass and nine stakes on dirt while offering multiple stakes on six days. Post time for the first race each day is 1 p.m. ET. 

Keeneland will be closed for racing on Easter Sunday, April 17.

“Keeneland is thrilled to offer such a lucrative Spring Meet stakes schedule for horsemen, horseplayers and racing fans,” Keeneland President and CEO Shannon Arvin said. “Keeneland is coming off a record-breaking 2021 in terms of wagering, which we are reinvesting in purse money to further elevate our racing program. We look forward to world-class racing this April setting the stage for a huge racing year that will continue with the Fall Meet in October and the return of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships on Nov. 4-5.”

The 98th running of the Toyota Blue Grass and the 85th running of the Central Bank Ashland both are worth 170 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby and Road to the Kentucky Oaks, respectively. The winners of each stakes will earn 100 qualifying points to the respective classic.

The early nomination deadline for the two stakes is Feb. 19. Late nominations are due March 23.

The Central Bank Ashland, at 1 1/16 miles, is one of three stakes for sophomores on opening day of the Spring Meet. The others are worth $400,000 each: the Kentucky Utilities Transylvania (G3), a 1 1/16-mile turf race, and the return of the Lafayette, a 7-furlong dirt race.

Malathaat won the 2021 Central Bank Ashland (G1) at Keeneland

The Lafayette was a fixture for 3-year-olds during the Spring Meets of 1937-2008. The race was run for older horses in 2015 and 2020 on the undercard of the Breeders’ Cup. 

“Keeneland in the spring is about 3-year-olds blossoming into talented runners, and we have focused on enhancing those stakes in particular to attract the best sophomores in the country,” Vice President of Racing Gatewood Bell said. “Moving the Central Bank Ashland to opening day makes the start of the Spring Meet extra special and provides a showcase for this historic Grade 1 event, which is the division’s first Grade 1 race of the year. And the fact that Easter Sunday falls on the second Sunday of the meet – when Keeneland is closed for racing – allows us to present a blockbuster opening weekend with 10 stakes worth a total of $4.55 million.”

Five of those stakes will be run opening Saturday, led by the Toyota Blue Grass, Keeneland’s signature Triple Crown prep. For 2022, the purse of the 1 1/8-mile race has been increased from $800,000 in 2021 and returns to the $1 million status of 2015-2019.

Essential Quality won the 2021 Toyota Blue Grass (G2) at Keeneland

The other stakes that day are the $500,000 Madison (G1), for fillies and mares at 7 furlongs; $400,000 Appalachian (G2) Presented by Japan Racing Association for 3-year-old fillies at 1 mile on the grass; $350,000 Shakertown (G2), for 3-year-olds and up at 5½ furlongs on the turf; and $300,000 Commonwealth (G3), for older horses at 7 furlongs.

Opening Sunday will present two stakes for 3-year-olds: the $400,000 Beaumont (G3) Presented by Keeneland Select, at 7 furlongs, 184 feet, on dirt for fillies; and the $200,000 Palisades, at 5½ furlongs on the grass. The Beaumont is worth 17 points on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks, with the winner collecting 10 points.

For the remainder of the Spring Meet, racing will be held Wednesday through Sunday with the exception of Easter Sunday.

Stakes action returns Friday, April 15, with the $600,000 Maker’s Mark Mile (G1), for 4-year-olds and up at 1 mile on turf, and the $200,000 TVG Limestone, for 3-year-old fillies going 5½ furlongs on the grass.

Saturday, April 16, will present three stakes: $500,000 Jenny Wiley (G1), a 1 1/16-mile turf race for fillies and mares; $400,000 Stonestreet Lexington (G3), for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles; and $200,000 Giant’s Causeway (L) a 5½-furlong turf race for fillies and mares.

The Stonestreet Lexington, which is the final prep on this year’s Road to the Kentucky Derby, awards 34 Derby qualifying points. The winner will earn 20 points.

Four graded stakes on the remaining days of the season will showcase older horses. The first is the $300,000 Baird Doubledogdare (G3), for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles, on Friday, April 22.

Two stakes will be run Saturday, April 23: $350,000 Elkhorn (G2), at 1½ miles on the turf, and $300,000 Ben Ali (G3), at 1 1/8 miles on dirt. The Ben Ali was moved from the second Saturday of the season.

The April 29 closing-day feature is the $300,000 Bewitch (G3), for fillies and mares racing 1½ miles on the turf.

Keeneland 2022 Spring Meet Stakes Schedule

DateStakesKTDF* Contribution to PurseDivisionDistance
April 8$600,000 Central Bank Ashland (G1)$100,0003YO Fillies1 1/16 Miles
April 8$400,000 Kentucky Utilities
Transylvania (G3)
$100,0003YOs1 1/16 Miles (T)
April 8$400,000 Lafayette$100,0003YOs7 Furlongs
April 9$1 Million Toyota Blue Grass (G2)$150,0003YOs1 1/8 Miles
April 9$500,000 Madison (G1) $100,0004YOs & Up, F&M7 Furlongs
April 9$400,000 Appalachian (G2) Presented by Japan Racing Association$100,0003YO Fillies1 Mile (T)
April 9$350,000 Shakertown (G2)$50,0003YOs & Up5½ Furlongs (T)
April 9$300,000 Commonwealth (G3)$50,0004YO & Up7 Furlongs
April 10$400,000 Beaumont (G3) Presented by Keeneland Select$100,0003YO Fillies7 Furlongs, 184’
April 10$200,000 Palisades$50,0003YO5½ Furlongs (T)
April 15$600,000 Maker’s Mark Mile (G1)$100,0004YOs & Up1 Mile (T)
April 15$200,000 TVG Limestone$50,0003YO Fillies5½ Furlongs (T)
April 16$500,000 Jenny Wiley (G1)$100,0004YOs & Up, F&M1 1/16 Miles (T)
April 16$400,000 Stonestreet Lexington (G3)$100,0003YOs1 1/16 Miles
April 16$200,000 Giant’s Causeway (L)$50,0003YOs & Up, F&M5½ Furlongs (T)
April 22$300,000 Baird Doubledogdare (G3)$50,0004YOs & Up, F&M1 1/16 Miles
April 23$300,000 Ben Ali (G3)$50,0004YOs & Up1 1/8 Miles
April 23$350,000 Elkhorn (G2)$50,0004YOs & Up1½ Miles (T)
April 29 $300,000 Bewitch (G3)$50,0004YOs & Up, F&M1½ Miles (T)

*Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund. All KTDF purse allotments are subject to approval of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.

Keeneland Press Release

Photo: Left: Malathaat (#5) defeats Pass the Champagne in the 2021 Central Bank Ashland Stakes (Keeneland Photo); Right: Piloted by Luis Saez Essential Quality (#4) gets a neck up on Highly Motivated under Javier Castellano to win the 2021 Toyota Bluegrass. (Keeneland/Coady Photography) 

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