(The Keeneland Sycamore / Photo by Gene McLean)

From the Keeneland Media Team:

Bolstered by strong community support and highlighted by championship-caliber racing, idyllic fall weather and special events aimed at benefiting the Central Kentucky region, Keeneland closed its 2019 Fall Meet today with significant increases in on-track attendance and record all-sources wagering.

“We remain humbled by the depth of support from our fans, our horsemen and our sponsors,” Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason said. “The combination this fall of lovely weather and community engagement through events such as Make-A-Wish Day and Heroes Day helped to showcase the best of Central Kentucky.”

Enhanced by warm, sunny weather and three days when crowds exceeded 24,000 people, total on-track attendance for the 17-day meet, held Oct. 4-26, rose 8.61 percent from 241,806 in the fall of 2018 to 262,630. Average daily attendance was 15,449 compared to 14,224 last year.

Full fields of quality horses drove all-sources wagering on live racing at Keeneland (not including whole-card simulcasting at Keeneland) to $160,207,916, surpassing the previous record of $158,640,591 set during the 2013 Spring Meet. Total wagering was up 11.02 percent over last fall’s $144,309,944.

Total on-track wagering of $17,320,852 outpaced last fall’s $16,419,870 by 5.49 percent. Average daily on-track handle was $1,018,873 versus $965,874 in the fall of 2018.

Keeneland established single-day Fall Meet all-sources and Pick 5 wagering records on Fall Stars Saturday, Oct. 5. All-sources handle totaled $18,392,756, eclipsing the previous record of $17,122,465. Wagering on the $300,000-guaranteed All-Stakes Pick 5 totaled $794,689 to best the former record of $715,555.

A string of upsets in the Late Pick 5 at Keeneland on Saturday, Oct. 19, resulted in a big payoff for one lucky player, with a single ticket paying a record $308,872. The previous Pick 5 record payout at Keeneland was $266,430 from Oct. 11, 2012.

Fall Meet Recap

Keeneland further strengthened its commitment to the safety of its equine and human athletes this fall by naming prominent equine practitioner Dr. George Mundy as Equine Safety Director and Jim Pendergest, General Manager of The Thoroughbred Center and longtime race track professional, as Director of Racing Surfaces. Keeneland continues to invest significantly in state-of-the-art technology to provide the most consistent racing surfaces possible and in initiatives that advance health and welfare research to benefit horse and rider; fund Thoroughbred aftercare initiatives; and participate in databases that track equine and jockey injuries to promote transparency and study. Along with other Kentucky tracks, Keeneland has petitioned the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission to effect changes in medication protocols and reporting of equine medical records and to increase staffing to provide additional oversight.

Average daily purse money this fall was $769,301 to rank Keeneland among North America’s richest racing programs, attracting the sport’s top owners, trainers and jockeys. Average starters per race reached 9.5 compared to 9.4 last fall.

Forty horses that raced or trained at Keeneland this fall were pre-entered in the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, to be held Nov. 1-2 at Santa Anita.

Ten horses earned an automatic berth in the Breeders’ Cup via “Win & You’re In” stakes held during the Fall Meet. Nine Breeders’ Cup Challenge races were featured on Keeneland’s signature Fall Stars Weekend, held Oct. 4-6.

Horses who won Challenge races and are pre-entered in the Breeders’ Cup are: Darley Alcibiades (G1) winner British Idiom (Juvenile Fillies-G1), Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) winner Bowies Hero (TVG Mile-G1), Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (G1) winner Maxfield (TVG Juvenile-G1), First Lady Presented by UK Healthcare (G1) winner Uni (GB) (TVG Mile-G1), Juddmonte Spinster (G1) winner Blue Prize (ARG) (Distaff-G1), Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix (G2) winner Engage (Sprint-G1), Thoroughbred Club of America (G2) winner Spiced Perfection, (Filly and Mare Sprint-G1), Dixiana Bourbon (G3) winner Peace Achieved (Juvenile Turf-G1) and Indian Summer winner Kimari (Juvenile Turf Sprint).

Sweet Melania won the 10th Breeders’ Cup Challenge race, the JPMorgan Chase Jessamine (G2) on Oct. 9, to earn a position in the Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1).

A unique milestone was achieved this fall when Gentle Ruler won the Rood & Riddle Dowager (G3) on Oct. 20, marking the first graded stakes win for Morsches Stable. Thirty-four years ago, on Oct. 5, 1985, Paul Morsches won the first turf race at Keeneland, an allowance event, with Ogama Bay. Today, Paul’s sons comprise Morsches Stable, and two generations of the family were here to carry on the tradition of celebrating a win at Keeneland.

“These are the connections that make racing at Keeneland so special,” Keeneland Vice President of Racing and Sales Bob Elliston said. “We thank our horsemen for always bringing their best athletes to compete at Keeneland. And we look forward to cheering on our many Breeders’ Cup contenders who prepped at Keeneland this fall.”

Fall Meet Special Events Exemplify Keeneland’s Philanthropic Mission

In conjunction with the racing excitement, Keeneland celebrated its founding mission this fall with a full calendar of special events designed to support the community and engage race fans.

Members of the Keeneland jockey colony joined retired riders for an autograph session on Oct. 5 that raised $6,725 for the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund.

Keeneland raised $105,000 during Make-A-Wish Day on Oct. 10, teaming with local Thoroughbred farms and organizations to grant wishes for 10 deserving children, who, along with their families, enjoyed a VIP day at the races.

Keeneland welcomed Big Blue Nation on Oct. 11, the day before the University of Kentucky’s football game with the University of Arkansas. UK students, alumni, faculty and staff received free general admission, and activities throughout the afternoon helped fans cheer on the Wildcats. In honor of Big Blue Day at the Races, Keeneland presented DanceBlue with a check for $5,000. DanceBlue raises funds in support of the Kentucky Children’s Hospital and the UK Markey Cancer Center.

Keeneland partnered with Thoroughbred industry entities to offer 18 scholarships worth a total of $70,000 – more than double the $30,000 offered in previous race meets – to students as part of its College Scholarship Day on Oct. 18. Keeneland and the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association increased their combined scholarship contribution from $10,000 to $20,000. Once again, two $10,000 Runhappy Scholarships were awarded, and new this fall, six Thoroughbred industry partners – Claiborne Farm, Glen Hill Farm, Hinkle Farms, Paramount Sales, Solis/Litt Bloodstock and Taylor Made Farm – each offered a $5,000 scholarship for a combined total of $30,000.

Heroes Day Presented by City Barbeque on Oct. 20 recognized the men and women who serve our community. All active-duty and veteran military, first responders and their families received free general admission and lunch courtesy of City Barbeque. A spectacular flag unfurling on the main track by Henry Clay High School’s Junior ROTC followed the day’s third race. Keeneland and City Barbeque teamed to donate $5,000 to benefit the Kentucky State Police Foundation.

(Jockey Julien Leparoux / Photo Courtesy of Keeneland)

Fall Meet Leaders 

The competition for Fall Meet leading owner, trainer and jockey titles was as exciting as the racing itself.

Two-time Eclipse Award winner Julien Leparoux earned his 12th leading rider title at Keeneland this fall (six Spring Meet titles and six Fall Meet titles) with 19 wins. Leparoux is third behind Pat Day and Don Brumfield in number of Keeneland titles won, and he is fourth behind Day, Brumfield and Robby Albarado in total races won (492) at Keeneland.

Tyler Gaffalione made a late bid for the title, recording three wins on Oct. 24 and two wins on Oct. 25, to finish second in the standings with 14 victories. Corey Lanerie moved into sole possession of third place with a win on closing day to bring his Fall Meet tally to 13, led by a victory in the Lexus Raven Run (G2) aboard Bell’s the One.

Javier Castellano and Jose Ortiz were among the season’s top leading riders, recording 12 and 11 wins, respectively. Castellano compiled three three-win days and notched stakes victories with Engage in the Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix and Spiced Perfection in the Thoroughbred Club of America. Ortiz’s total included two three-win days and victories in Keeneland’s two Grade 1 juvenile stakes, Darley Alcibiades with British Idiom and Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity aboard Maxfield, as well as the JPMorgan Chase Jessamine (G2) with Sweet Melania.

Joel Rosario won four races on closing day, led by a victory with Tom’s d’Etat in the Hagyard Fayette (G2), to post nine meet wins.

Mike Maker passed three-time Eclipse Award winner Chad Brown in the final days of the meet to score eight wins and secure his sixth Keeneland leading trainer title. Maker won the Sycamore (G3) with Marzo.

Brown’s seven Fall Meet victories included wins with Uni (GB) in the First Lady Presented by UK HealthCare and Cambier Parc in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Presented by Lane’s End.

Brad Cox, Wesley Ward and Ian Wilkes each won five races during the meet. Cox took the Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix with Engage; Ward captured the Indian Summer with Kimari; and Wilkes won the Rood & Riddle Dowager with Gentle Ruler.

The race for the Fall Meet leading owner went down to the final race of the season. In the end, Bob Lothenbach’s Lothenbach Stables and Jim and Susan Hill tied for leading owner honors with four wins each. Lothenbach Stables owns Lexus Raven Run winner Bell’s the One.

2019 Fall Meet at a Glance (Oct. 4-26)

  Fall 2019 Fall 2018 %  Change
All-Sources Handle on Keeneland $160,207,916 $144,309,944 +11.02%
Avg. Daily All-Sources Handle on Keeneland $9,423,995 $8,488,820 +11.02%
Total On-Track Handle $17,320,852 $16,419,870 +5.49%
Avg. Daily On-Track Handle $1,018,873 $965,874 +5.49%
Total Attendance 262,630 241,806 +8.61%
Avg. Daily Attendance 15,449 14,224 +8.61%