Keeneland releases $5.275 million fall stakes schedule
Keeneland will offer 17 graded stakes worth $5.275 million during its 2016 Fall Meet, to be held October 7-29, which kicks off with nine graded stakes presented as part of the track's prestigious Fall Stars Weekend. Eight Fall Meet stakes are Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" events with winners automatically qualifying for a berth in the Breeders' Cup World Championships at Santa Anita on November 4-5.
The 17-day meet, which offers one of North America's richest purse programs, marks the 80th anniversary of racing at Keeneland, which opened October 15, 1936, for its inaugural nine-day season.
Two stakes, the Phoenix and Franklin County, were upgraded for 2016 by the American Graded Stakes Committee. The Phoenix was upgraded from Grade 3 to Grade 2. The previous two winners of the Phoenix -- Work All Week in 2014 and Runhappy in 2015 -- went on to win the Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1) and be named champion male sprinter. The Franklin County was upgraded from a listed stakes to a Grade 3 event.
Keeneland's signature Fall Stars Weekend, on October 7-9, will be highlighted by nine graded stakes worth a total of $3.7 million. Five of those stakes are Grade 1 events and include the opening-day $400,000 Alcibiades (G1), for two-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles. The October 8 card is anchored by the $1 million Shadwell Turf Mile (G1), for three-year-olds and up; $500,000 Breeders' Futurity (G1), for two-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles; and $400,000 First Lady (G1), for fillies and mares at a mile on turf. Headlining the October 9 races is the $500,000 Spinster (G1), for fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles.
A sixth Grade 1 stakes, the internationally prominent $500,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup for three-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles on the turf is scheduled for October 15.
Seven Breeders' Cup Challenge stakes will be run Fall Stars Weekend: Alcibiades and Phoenix on October 7; Shadwell Turf Mile, Breeders' Futurity and Thoroughbred Club of America (G2) on October 8; and Spinster and Bourbon (G3) on October 9.
The eighth Breeders' Cup Challenge race is the Jessamine (G3) on October 12, which awards the winner a berth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1).
This fall, the $200,000 Fayette (G2) for three-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles, returns to its traditional closing-day position on the stakes schedule. In 2015, the Fayette was featured on Prelude to the Cup Day in celebration of the Breeders' Cup at Keeneland.