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Keeneland requesting July 8-12 summer meet

Editor’s note: Ellis Park currently holds those race dates. But Keeneland brass has been public that they’ve been speaking to Ellis Park about acquiring some dates. It’s extremely implausible that the KHRC would try to oversee racing at two tracks on the same day. 

Keeneland press release (Coady photo of Vekoma winning last year’s Toyota Blue Grass)

LEXINGTON, KY (May 22, 2020) – Keeneland has submitted a request to the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission’s Race Dates Committee for a five-day Summer Meet, to be held Wednesday, July 8 through Sunday, July 12. Under the current safety protocols, the Summer Meet would be held without spectators. The summer dates accommodate a portion of the 16-day Spring Meet that Keeneland was forced to cancel due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Keeneland also will share return to racing protocols with Gov. Andy Beshear’s office and local health officials for their approval. To ensure the safety of staff, horsemen and others on its grounds with regard to COVID-19, Keeneland, along with the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and other Kentucky race tracks, has developed strict protocols for stabling and racing. Keeneland’s COVID-19 protocols will mirror those currently in place at Churchill Downs.

“We are excited about the return of racing to Keeneland and know this will be welcome news for our horsemen, fans and the Central Kentucky community,” Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason said. “This purse money represents significant income for horsemen, and while the races will be spectator-free, the Keeneland team is hard at work on creative ways to involve fans watching at home and to enhance our simulcast product for handicappers.”

Keeneland plans to host full cards of 9-10 races each day of the Summer Meet. Ten graded stakes traditionally run during the track’s Spring Meet highlight the Summer Meet schedule, among them the $600,000 Toyota Blue Grass (G2) and $400,000 Central Bank Ashland (G1), preps for the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Kentucky Oaks (G1), respectively; $350,000 Coolmore Jenny Wiley (G1), $300,000 Maker’s Mark Mile (G1) and $250,000 Madison (G1). (See a full stakes schedule at the conclusion of this release.)

“These stakes races are important targets on the racing calendar for owners and breeders alike, and we are very happy to have the opportunity to conduct them,” Keeneland Vice President of Racing and Sales Bob Elliston said. “The purses of some stakes, as well as maiden special weight and allowance races, are reduced from planned 2020 Spring Meet levels. Keeneland is unique in that during the course of a race meet, we put every bit of revenue we generate – from wagering, dining, concessions, gate, seating and sponsorships – back into purse money. The Summer Meet purse projections are based on current Association cash and Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund.”

Keeneland 2020 Summer Stakes Schedule

Date Stakes Division Distance
July 10 $300,000 Maker’s Mark Mile (G1) 4YOs & Up 1 Mile (T)
July 10 $100,000 Beaumont (G3) Presented
by Keeneland Select
3YO Fillies 7 Furlongs, 184’
July 11 $600,000 Toyota Blue Grass (G2) 3YOs 1 1/8 Miles
July 11 $400,000 Central Bank Ashland (G1) 3YO Fillies 1 1/16 Miles
July 11 $350,000 Coolmore Jenny Wiley (G1) 4YOs & Up, F&M 1 1/16 Miles (T)
July 11 $250,000 Madison (G1)  4YOs & Up, F&M 7 Furlongs
July 11 $150,000 Shakertown (G2) 3YOs & Up 5½ Furlongs (T)
July 11 $150,000 Appalachian (G2) Presented
by Japan Racing Association
3YO Fillies 1 Mile (T)
July 12 $175,000 TVG Elkhorn (G2) 4YOs & Up 1½ Miles (T)
July 12 $100,000 Kentucky Utilities
Transylvania (G3)
3YOs 1 1/16 Miles (T)



Jennie Rees is a communications and advocacy specialist in the horse industry who spent 32 years covering horse racing for The (Louisville) Courier-Journal before taking a corporate buyout. In addition to handling communications for the Kentucky HBPA, Rees is Kentucky Downs’ publicity director, manages in-season racing publicity for Ellis Park and serves as a consultant to the National HBPA. Other projects include the Preakness Stakes, Indiana Grand’s Indiana Derby Week and work for various HBPA affiliates and horsemen’s associations.