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Keeneland ends Springs Meet with limited number of fans permitted and 7.55% increase in wagering

Keeneland closed its 2021 Spring Meet Friday, which featured the return of a limited number of fans to the track, strong all-sources wagering fueled by quality racing led by champion Essential Quality’s win in the Toyota Blue Grass (G2) and an emphasis on community initiatives in furtherance of Keeneland’s philanthropic mission.

“We thank our fans, both near and far, the Central Kentucky community, our horseplayers, our corporate partners and our loyal horsemen for a fantastic racing season,” Keeneland President and CEO Shannon Arvin said. “Keeneland’s continued success is built on the contributions of many, and we extend our appreciation to all those who make racing at Keeneland such a memorable experience.”

In accordance with COVID-19 restrictions, only a limited number of fans were permitted to attend the races at Keeneland this spring. Attendance totaled 96,243, for an average daily crowd of 6,416.

Despite the limited capacity, fans on track and remotely enthusiastically wagered on the Spring Meet. All-sources wagering for the 15-day Spring Meet, held April 2-23, increased 7.55 percent to $164,680,229 versus the 16-day Spring Meet in 2019, when all-sources wagering totaled $153,116,119. (Keeneland canceled its 2020 Spring Meet due to the COVID-19 pandemic.) Average daily wagering of $10,978,682 was up 14.72 percent compared to $9,569,757 during the 2019 Spring Meet.

Boosting total wagering was robust handle on Toyota Blue Grass Day, April 3, which featured six stakes worth $2.1 million on the 11-race card. All-sources wagering that day totaled $22,723,197 to be the third-highest single-day handle in Keeneland history. The Pick 5 handled a record $1,485,090, eclipsing the previous mark of $1,395,051 set on Toyota Blue Grass Day during the 2020 Summer Meet.

Limited attendance this spring resulted in total on-track handle of $9,224,273, for average daily on-track handle of $614,952. In comparison, on-track handle totaled $16,490,636 for the 2019 Spring Meet.
Spring Meet Racing Moments and Milestones
Average daily purses of $739,902 at Keeneland this spring ranked among the richest in North America and attracted the sport’s top trainers and jockeys.

Competitive racing was showcased in 18 stakes worth $4.1 million in purse money. Six graded stakes were carded for opening Saturday, anchored by the $800,000 Toyota Blue Grass (G2) and $400,000 Central Bank Ashland (G1), major preps on the Roads to the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Kentucky Oaks (G1), respectively.

Champion Essential Quality kept his undefeated record intact in winning the Toyota Blue Grass, earning 100 points to establish himself as the top point earner and early favorite for the Kentucky Derby. With the victory, he became the fifth horse to win Keeneland’s Breeders’ Futurity at 2 and the Blue Grass at 3. The others are Brody’s Cause (2015-2016), Carpe Diem (2014-2015), Dullahan (2011-2012) and Round Table (1956-1957). Essential Quality also won the TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) Presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance at Keeneland last fall.

Undefeated Malathaat won the Central Bank Ashland to rank among the top point earners on the Kentucky Oaks leaderboard. The victory marked owner Shadwell Stable’s eighth graded stakes win here to earn a Keeneland Tray as part of Keeneland’s signature Milestone Trophy Program. Only 20 other owners have such an accomplishment at Keeneland.

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