Contenders to Consider in Grade 1 Stephen FosterRead this article
Keeneland Race Course
Keeneland Race Course is one of the most beautiful and historic racetracks in North America. The track held their first racing season in 1936 and has developed into both a premier racetrack and a prestigious Thoroughbred sales complex. They host two meets, in the spring and fall, and attract the upper echelon of horses, trainers and jockeys. In addition, they host four sales events each year in which the very best the Thoroughbred breeding industry has to offer is as available, often for millions of dollars.
Keeneland Race Course Horse Racing
Despite the outwardly traditional appearance, Keeneland has been a track on the cutting edge with their racing surfaces. In 2006, they switched their mile and a sixteenth main track over to Polytrack, a synthetic surface. The turf course, heralded as one of the top in the country, is a seven and a half furlong course. In 2014, the main track was converted back to conventional dirt for their annual fall meet.
Major Races and Events
The racing at Keeneland is some of the best the United States has to offer and each meet offers a premier racing product. In the spring, the most precocious two-year-olds will make their career debuts and the sophomores will prep for the Triple Crown in the Blue Grass (G1). In the fall, the sights shift to the Breeders’ Cup with several marquee races set with an ideal time to serve as a prep for the championship day such as the Juddmonte Spinster (G1) or the Shadwell Mile (G1).
Since the inaugural running of the Blue Grass (G1) at Keeneland, the race has served as a key prep for the Kentucky Derby. Twenty-three eventual Kentucky Derby (G1) winners have used the Blue Grass as a stepping stone and eleven have won both races. The race has taken on a lesser prominence in recent years as a Triple Crown prep due to the synthetic surface but with conventional dirt back for the 2015 edition, it should be a popular event.
Utilized as a significant prep race for the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, the Spinster (G1) has showcased some of the top fillies and mares in the sport since it began in 1956. The mile and an eighth contest has attracted numerous champions including Bayakoa, Inside Information and Azeri. Blue-hen broodmare Take Charge Lady won the race in consecutive years in 2002 and 2003.
Run annually since 1986, the Shadwell Mile (G1) has routinely attracted an internationally accomplished field with top-class runners from around the world. In recent years, Kiaran McLaughlin has dominated the race with three winners, more than any trainer so far in the history of the race. Two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan won the race in 2012 and was second in the 2013 edition and went on to win the Breeders’ Cup Mile both years.
In horse racing, the focus is always on the future. In the Breeders’ Futurity, the hopes and dreams of the next year’s Triple Crown are unveiled, with many champions coming through Keeneland on their way to remarkable careers. Since the race began in 1938, no one has been more dominant than D. Wayne Lukas who has won six installments of the mile and a sixteenth contest.