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 nine to 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 GII Toyota Blue Grass S. and $400,000 GI Central Bank Ashland S., preps for the GI Kentucky Derby and GI Kentucky Oaks, respectively; $350,000 GI Coolmore Jenny Wiley, $300,000 GI Maker’s Mark Mile and $250,000 GI Madison S.
“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.”