Keeneland opens their spring meet next week. The track's Julie Balog talks about highlights to expect in addition to the big Toyota Bluegrass Stakes and the two legendary jockeys with mounts in big races.
KEENELAND 2013 SPRING MEET
April 5-26, racing Wednesday through Sunday
1:05 p.m. (ET) Gates open at 11 a.m. No racing on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Admission:$5. Children 12 and under free.
Keeneland offers spectacular racing in a setting unlike any other racetrack in America. The nation's top jockeys and trainers compete for some of the country's richest purse money - 16 stakes, including five Grade 1 events, are worth a total of $3.625 million.
Keeneland's ultra-competitive jockey colony is set to include Racing Hall of Famer Gary Stevens, who returned to the saddle in January after a retirement, and Eclipse Award winner Julien Leparoux, who captured his fifth consecutive, and ninth overall, leading rider title during the 2012 fall season.
Saturday, April 6 -- $500,000 Central Bank Ashland (G1), for 3YO fillies, prep for Kentucky Oaks
Friday, April 12 -- $300,000 Maker's 46 Mile (G1), HOY Wise Dan is potential starter
Saturday, April 13 -- $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass (G1), for 3YOs, major prep for Kentucky Derby
Keeneland has added Katie Mikolay Gensler to its race-day lineup this spring. She will work alongside longtime Keeneland handicapper and oddsmaker Mike Battaglia, providing live paddock commentary and selections.
"Betologists" will be deployed around the facility on race days to answer fan questions about wagering.
On Saturdays, Keeneland's official tailgate lot, nicknamed "the Hill" and located adjacent to the Keene Barn and Entertainment Center, will feature food trucks, a jumbo television screen, wireless wagering and wagering terminals, live music, and race-day programs and general admission tickets available for purchase from 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. ET.
College Scholarship Dayon opening day, April 5. The event draws thousands of students from colleges and universities in Kentucky and in neighboring states. Admission is free for full-time students, who can register in the College Zone in the North Terrace to win a $1,000 scholarships awarded after each of the 10 races. The first 2,000 students to register will receive a free T-shirt courtesy of Kennedy Book Store in Lexington or a hat courtesy of Vineyard Vines. Look for a new Harry's Handicapping Zone, where fans can find betting tips and a chance to win prizes.
Sunrise Tracksideoffers activities for the entire family each Saturdays, beginning at 7 a.m. (ET) with Breakfast With the Works, children's activities in the Kids Club Corner (7-9 a.m.); an equine-related demonstration in the paddock (8:45 a.m.); walking tours of Keeneland (8:30 a.m.-noon); photos with legendary bugler George "Bucky" Sallee (11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.); a trackside handicapping seminar (11:30 a.m.); and a Q&A session with a Keeneland jockey in the paddock (12:05 p.m.).
Jockey Autograph Signing,on Friday, April 19. Meet retired jockeys and current Keeneland riders from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. adjacent to the paddock. Jockeys will sign items to benefit the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund.
Military Appreciation Day Presented by Windstream, on Sunday, April 21. Active and inactive members of the military and their families receive free general admission with a military ID at any pass gate. The North Terrace will be transformed into the Military Family Zone with free food, live music and activities. Since April is the Month of the Military Child, Keeneland will have special giveaways and activities for children in the Military Family Zone from noon to 4 p.m.