Keeneland successfully closed its 2022 Spring Meet on Friday with all-sources handle topping $219 million to establish an all-time wagering record for the historic Thoroughbred track. Fans at Keeneland and across the country enjoyed an exceptionally strong racing season with record average daily purses of $1.147 million attracting the nation’s top horses and jockeys and resulting in full fields that averaged 9.1 starters per race. Complementing the quality racing was a slate of special events that offered family fun while benefiting the local community.
The 15-day Spring Meet, held April 8-29, marks the third consecutive season of record handle at Keeneland, reflecting the tremendous quality of racing.
“This Spring Meet was unmatched in many measures, most of all the fact that everyone seemed to revel in the energy of having fans back in full force on race days,” Keeneland President and CEO Shannon Arvin said. “Keeneland is a special place because of the support we receive from the Central Kentucky community, our horsemen, handicappers, sponsors, fans and employees. This spring season sets the stage for a huge racing year that continues with the Fall Meet in October and the return of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships on Nov. 4-5.”
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All-sources wagering (not including whole-card simulcasting at Keeneland) for the Spring Meet totaled $219,284,979, eclipsing the previous record of $181,009,626 set during last year’s 17-day Fall Meet. The total represents a 33.16 percent increase over last spring’s record $164,680,229. Average daily all-sources handle was $14,618,999.
Wagering totals were boosted by several individual handle records during the meet. Record single-day all-sources handle of $28,137,728 was set on Toyota Blue Grass Day, Saturday, April 9, which featured 11 races, five of which were graded stakes.
Wagering on the 11-race card the following Saturday, April 16, totaled $27,304,001 to be the second-highest single-day handle in Keeneland history.
Record Pick 4 & Pick 5
Record Pick 4 and Pick 5 wagering also was realized on April 16. The Pick 4 handled a record $1,357,298, exceeding the previous mark of $1,065,002 set on Toyota Blue Grass Day in 2018. The Pick 5 handled a record $1,539,098 to surpass the $1,485,090 established on Toyota Blue Grass Day in 2021.
On-track wagering this spring totaled $16,190,832, up 75.52 percent from last spring’s $9,224,273 when COVID-19 limited attendance for the meet. Average daily on-track wagering this spring was $1,079,389.
The Keeneland Turf Pick 3, a wager on the final three turf races each day that was inaugurated last fall, remained popular with handicappers with total handle of $1,543,399, for an average of $128,617 per day (12 days of the wager).
Daily purses at Keeneland this spring averaged a record $1,147,834, an increase of 55.13 percent over last spring’s $739,902.
Keeneland awarded a record $7.7 million for 19 stakes held this spring. The schedule featured increased purses for all stakes and significant changes to the season’s two historic classic preps: The Toyota Blue Grass (G1), a key 3-year-old prep on the Road to the Kentucky Derby (G1) and held the first Saturday of the Spring Meet, was elevated to Grade 1 status 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 to opening day to provide a showcase for this major Kentucky Oaks (G1) prep.
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 Shakertown (G2), Beaumont (G3) Presented by Keeneland Select and Kentucky Utilities Transylvania (G3), received significant boosts.
“The racing at Keeneland this spring was just sensational,” Keeneland Vice President of Racing Gatewood Bell said. “All credit and thanks should start with the owners and trainers who sent us such a talented and deep group of horses to fill our race cards. Those connections and horses in turn attracted the deepest jockey colony in the country, who together put on an amazing show all meet long for our dedicated fans and horseplayers.”
Other memorable moments from the Spring Meet include:
- Zandon cruised to victory in the Toyota Blue Grass, earning for him 100 points and second place on the Kentucky Derby (G1) Presented by Woodford Reserve leaderboard.
- Nest romped to an 8¼-length victory in the Central Bank Ashland to earn 100 points and move into third position with 120 points on the Kentucky Oaks (G1) leaderboard.
- Tawny Port captured the Stonestreet Lexington to earn 20 points to boost his total to 60, securing a spot in the Kentucky Derby starting gate.
- Malathaat, the champion 3-year-old filly of 2021, made a stylish season debut in winning the $300,000 Baird Doubledogdare (G3).
- Two-time Breeders’ Cup winner Golden Pal dominated his rivals in winning the 5½-furlong Shakertown on turf by 4¾ lengths.
- Shirl’s Speight prevailed by a nose in an exciting Maker’s Mark Mile finish.
- Two turf stakes records: champion Channel Maker won the $350,000 Elkhorn (G2), getting the 1½ miles in 2:27.10, and Campanelle (IRE) won the $200,000 Giant’s Causeway (L) at 5½ furlongs on turf in 1:01.98.