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Keeneland’s 2017 Spring Meet starts Friday


MCCRACKEN, the morning-line favorite for the $1 million Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G2), goes for a morning workout at Keeneland on Thursday, March 30. The 3-year-old colt is also an early favorite for the Kentucky Derby (G1), which will be held the first Saturday of May at Churchill Downs. (Photo by Steve Blake/multiexposures.com)

Horse racing fans, the time you have been waiting for all winter long is finally here – the 15-day Keeneland Spring Meet opens this Friday, April 7, and runs through Friday, April 28, with racing every Wednesday through Sunday, except Easter Sunday, April 16. During the 2017 Spring Meet, there will be 16 stakes races worth $4.325 million, which includes this Saturday’s $1million Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G2) and the $500,000 Central Bank Ashland Stakes (G1). “Keeneland receives loyal support from owners and trainers across North America, and we are proud to once again feature such a rich and diverse stakes schedule,” said Bob Elliston, Keeneland vice president of racing and sales, in a press release. “We continue to pursue initiatives to provide an exceptional racing program for horsemen and competitive wagering opportunities for fans.” The meet kicks off this Friday and includes seven stakes races during this opening weekend. The first stakes race is on Friday, April 7, with the $150,000 Transylvania (G3) Stakes, which is a 1-1/16th-mile turf race for 3-year-olds. The prize money for this race was raised from $100,000 to $150,000 for 2017. Then on Saturday, April 8, there are five stakes races on the ticket. • The Madison Stakes (G1), a seven-furlong race on the main track for fillies and mares 4 years old and up. • The $250,000 Commonwealth Stakes (G3), a 1-1/8 mile race on the main track for 3-year-olds. • The 200,000 Shakertown Stakes (G2), a 5-1/2 furlong turf race for 3-year-olds and up. • The $1 million Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G2), a 1-1/8 mile race on the main track for 3-year-olds. The winner of the race earns 100 points and a spot in the Kentucky Derby (G1) on Saturday, May 6, at Churchill Downs. • The $500,000 Central Bank Ashland Stakes (G1), a 1-1/16 mile race on the main track for 3-year-old fillies. The winner earns 100 points and a spot in the Kentucky Oaks on Friday, May 5, at Churchill Downs. NBC Sports Network plans to provide coverage of the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes, along with the Wood Memorial (G2) at Aqueduct and the Santa Anita Derby (G1). The show is schedule to run from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., with the Blue Grass Stakes’ post time slated for 6 p.m. The final stakes race this opening weekend is on Sunday, April 9, with the $150,000 Adena Springs Beaumont Stakes (G3), a seven-furlong, 184-foot race on the main track for 3-year-old fillies. Keeneland will also have another full-slate of stakes races next week, Thursday to Sunday, April 13 to 16. Things start off on Thursday with the $125,000 Appalachian Stakes (G3), a one-mile turf race for 3-year-old fillies. Then on Friday is the $300,000 Maker’s 46 Mile (G1), a one-mile turf race for 4-year-olds and up. On Saturday, there are four more stakes races. • The $350,000 Coolmore Jenny Wiley (G1), a 1-1/16th-mile turf race for fillies and mares 4 years old and up. • The $200,000 Stonestreet Lexington Stakes (G3), a 1-1/16th-mile race on the main track for 3-year-olds. • The $200,000 Ben Ali Stakes (G3), a 1-1/8th-mile race on the main track for 4-year-olds and up. The final stakes race next Saturday is the $100,000 Giant’s Causeway, a limited stakes race of 5-1/2 furlongs on the turf for fillies and mares 3 years old and up. The final thee stakes races for the Spring meet are the $100,000 Doubledogdare Stakes (G3) on Friday, April 21, a 1-1/16th-mile race on the main track for fillies and mares 4 years old and up; the $250,000 Dixiana Elkhorn Stakes (G2) on Saturday, April 22, a 1-1/2-mile turf race for 4-year-olds and up, and the $150,000 Bewitch Stakes (G3) on closing day, Friday, April 22, a 1-1/2 mile turf race for fillies and mares 4 years old and up. Races are run Thursday through Sunday, except Easter. Monday and Tuesday are off days. Gates open at 11 a.m. Post time is 1:05 p.m., except Saturday, April 15, when it is 12:35 p.m. (Information provided by Keeneland Communications.)

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