Keeneland successfully closed its 2022 Spring Meet on Friday with an all-source handful exceeding $219 million to set an all-time betting record for the historic thoroughbred track. Fans in Keeneland and across the country enjoyed an exceptionally strong racing season with record average daily purses of $1.147 million attracting the best horses and jockeys in the country and resulting in full fields averaging 9, 1 runners per race. Complementing the quality races, a series of special events provided family fun while benefiting the local community.

The 15-day Spring Meet, held April 8-29, marks Keeneland’s third consecutive record-breaking season, reflecting the tremendous quality of racing.

“This Spring Meet was unparalleled in so many ways, especially the fact that everyone seemed to be reveling in the energy of having fans back in force on race day,” said the President and CEO of Keeneland, Shannon Arvin. “Keeneland is a special place because of the support we receive from the Central Kentucky community, our riders, disabled, sponsors, fans and employees. This spring season sets the stage for a huge year of racing which continues with the fall meet in October and the return of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships on November 4-5.

All-source betting (not including the full-card simulcast at Keeneland) for the Spring Meet totaled $219,284,979, eclipsing the previous record of $181,009,626 set at last year’s 17-day Fall Meet. The total represents a 33.16% increase from last spring’s record high of $164,680,229. The average daily salary from all sources was $14,618,999.

Betting totals were boosted by several individual handle records during the encounter. A record handful of $28,137,728 from all sources in a single day was set at Toyota Blue Grass Day on Saturday, April 9, which featured 11 races, five of which were high-stakes.

Betting on the 11-race card the following Saturday, April 16 totaled $27,304,001, the second-highest one-day handle in Keeneland history.

Record Pick 4 and Pick 5 bets were also made on April 16. The Pick 4 managed a record $1,357,298, topping the previous mark of $1,065,002 set at Toyota Blue Grass Day in 2018. The Pick 5 managed a record $1,539,098 to top $1,485 $090 established on Toyota Blue Grass Day in 2021.

Bets on the track this spring totaled $16,190,832, up 75.52% from $9,224,273 last spring when COVID-19 limited meet attendance. The average daily bets at the track this spring were $1,079,389.

The Keeneland Turf Pick 3, a bet on the last three turf races each day which was inaugurated last fall, has remained popular with handicappers with a total handle of $1,543,399, averaging $128,617 per day (12 betting days).

Race Highlights

Daily purses at Keeneland this spring averaged a record high of $1,147,834, a 55.13% increase from last spring’s $739,902.

Keeneland awarded a record $7.7 million for 19 appearances held this spring. The schedule featured increased purses for all stakes and significant changes to the season’s two historic classic preparations: The Toyota Blue Grass (G1), a key 3-year preparation on the road to the Kentucky Derby (G1) and held on first Saturday of the Spring Meet, was elevated to Grade 1, and the purse was restored to $1 million. The Central Bank Ashland (G1) for 3-year-old fillies was worth a record $600,000 and moved on opening day to showcase this major Kentucky Oaks (G1) prep.

Purses for certain stakes have doubled for 2022, including the Maker’s Mark Mile (G1) 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 Shakertown (G2), Beaumont (G3) presented by Keeneland Select and Kentucky Utilities Transylvania (G3), received significant increases.

“Racing at Keeneland this spring was nothing short of sensational,” said Keeneland Racing Vice President Gatewood Bell. “All credit and thanks must begin with the owners and trainers who sent us such a talented and deep group of horses to fill our racing cards. These connections and these horses have in turn attracted the most deep in the country, who together have put on an incredible show for a long time for our dedicated fans and horse players.

Other memorable Spring Meet moments include:

  • Zandon took victory in the Toyota Blue Grass, earning him 100 points and second place in the Kentucky Derby (G1) standings presented by Woodford Reserve.
  • Nest took an 8¼ length win at Central Bank Ashland to earn 100 points and move into third with 120 points in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) standings.
  • Tawny Port captured the Stonestreet Lexington to earn 20 points to take their total to 60, securing a spot in the Kentucky Derby starting grid.
  • Malathaat, the 2021 champion 3-year-old filly, made an elegant start to the season by winning the $300,000 Baird Doubledogdare (G3).
  • Two-time Breeders’ Cup winner Golden Pal topped their rivals as they won Shakertown by 5 ½ stadia on grass by 4 ¾ lengths.
  • Shirl’s Speight won by a nose in an exciting Maker’s Mark Mile finish.
  • Two grass stakes records: the Channel Maker champion won the $350,000 Elkhorn (G2), completing the 1½ miles in 2:27.10, and Campanelle (IRE) won the Giant’s Causeway (L ) to $200,000 at 5,100 meters on grass in 1:01.98.

Spring Meeting Leaders

The Spring Meet featured exceptional competition thanks to horses representing the sport’s leading trainers, jockeys and owners. As a result, the races for the top riders were decided on the last day of the season.

Trainer Wesley Ward won 13 races to secure his sixth Spring Meet title and eighth title overall. Ward took the aforementioned Shakertown with Golden Pal and Giant’s Causeway with TVG Limestone (L) with Ruthin (GB).

Brad Cox finished second with 11 wins, winning the Madison (G1) with Just One Time, Stonestreet Lexington and Beaumont (G3) presented by Keeneland Select with Matareya.

Chad Brown, third with nine wins, won the Toyota Blue Grass with Zandon and Jenny Wiley (G1) with Regal Glory.

Among the jockeys, Tyler Gaffalione won his first Spring Meet title and his fifth title overall. He led the racers with 19 wins, including Appalachia (G2) presented by the Japan Racing Association on Spendarella and Commonwealth (G3) on Prevalence. Gaffalione’s success included winning four races on April 9 and three races on April 15.

Irad Ortiz Jr. finished second in the standings with 18 wins. Ortiz rode three winners twice, on opening day and closing day. On opening day, his wins included Central Bank Ashland and Kentucky Utilities Transylvania over Sy Dog. Ortiz also won the Shakertown and the Giant’s Causeway.

Flavien Prat finished third with 15 wins, which took the Toyota Blue Grass aboard Zandon as well as the Madison and Beaumont presented by Keeneland Select.

Luis Saez finished fourth with 14 wins. He won the Maker’s Mark Mile on Shirl’s Speight and the Elkhorn on Channel Maker.

Barbara Banke’s Stonestreet Stables were the main owners of the competition with five wins, including TVG Limestone. This is Stonestreet’s first title.

Record 279 entries in Year 1 draws

Christian Hellmers of Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., surpassed a record 279 players who entered the Grade 1 Gamble, Keeneland’s Spring Meet signature handicap contest, held on April 23. Players competed on track and via XpressBet, TVG, NYRABets, 4NJ Paris and HPi in Canada.

Hellmers took home a record $67,500 for first place. Cash prizes were awarded to the top 20. The top six each received an entry into the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge, and the top 10 all earned an entry into the National Horseplayers Championship.

Keeneland honors its philanthropic mission

Keeneland teamed up with sponsors and equestrian industry partners to meet at special events that engaged fans of all ages and fulfilled the track’s mission to give back to the Central Kentucky community.

Community and philanthropic initiatives at Keeneland this spring include:

  • More than 3,100 full-time students representing more than 125 colleges and universities participated in the popular College Scholarship Day presented by Lane’s End, held on April 8. The students entered to win one of ten $2,000 scholarships offered by Keeneland and the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association. Those from Keeneland were eligible to win one of two $10,000 scholarships provided by Lane’s End. Thirty-seven Lexington business prize packages were also awarded.
  • Proceeds from sales of the Maker’s Mark Bourbon® 2022 Commemorative Bottle in partnership with Keeneland supported Horse Mania, an initiative of LexArts. The bottle labels, which depicted the beauty of Thoroughbred racing, were signed by one of the three most successful riders in Keeneland history: Julie Krone, Rosie Napravnik and Donna Barton Brothers. Sales of the bottle and a contribution from Maker’s Mark resulted in a $60,000 donation to LexArts and Horse Mania.
  • Current members of the Keeneland Jockey Colony joined retired riders for an autograph session on April 15 that raised $5,955 for the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF).
  • Maker’s Mark also made a $10,000 contribution to the PDJF.
  • Toyota Blue Grass sponsor Toyota and Keeneland donated $10,000 to Jobs for America’s Graduates Kentucky, which aims to help middle and high school students become successful and contributing citizens upon graduation .
  • Kentucky Utilities and Keeneland have partnered to contribute $5,000 to the YMCA of Central Kentucky Black Achievers program.
  • Keeneland and Country Boy Brewing of Lexington have again collaborated to create Keeneland Spring Lager, with sales of the beer generating over $4,000 to benefit Blue Grass Farms Charities. The organization provides health and social services to people working in the Central Kentucky Thoroughbred industry.

·

Snapshot of Spring Meeting 2022 (April 8-29)

Spring 2022

Spring 2021

% Switch

All-source handle on Keeneland

$219,284,979

$164,680,229

+33.16%

Avg. All-Source Daily Handle on Keeneland

$14,618,999

$10,978,682

+33.16%

Full grip on track

$16,190,832

$9,224,273*

+75.52%

Avg. Daily Track Grip

$1,079,389

$614,952*

+75.52%

* On-track attendance for the 2021 Spring Meet has been limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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