Keeneland wraps fall meeting

Keeneland wraps fall meeting

(From Keeneland release)
– Keeneland's 2014 Fall Meet, highlighted by the debut of a new dirt surface, the track's first $1 million race and world-class racing that produced a large contingent of Breeders' Cup-bound horses, closed Saturday with the third-highest Fall season attendance in Keeneland history.

On-track attendance for the 17-day Fall Meet, held Oct. 3-25, totaled 251,574, third behind the fall records of 266,466 and 259,710 recorded in 2013 and 2012, respectively. Average daily attendance was 14,798, down 5.59 percent from last fall's 15,674.

Attendance was impacted by consistent rain and cooler than normal temperatures on seven of the meet's opening 10 race days. Average daily attendance rebounded, however, to exceed comparable 2013 figures each of the final six days of the meet, which had sunny, dry weather.

“Mother Nature challenged us during the opening weeks of the meet, and we thank the legions of loyal fans who came to the races on those less than ideal weather days,” Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason said. “We strive to offer every one of our guests the best experience possible. Keeneland is a very special place to go racing in both good and bad weather.”

On-track wagering totaled $17,625,834, dipping 3 percent from last Fall's $18,173,355. Average daily on-track wagering was $1,036,814, down 3 percent from $1,069,021 in 2013.

All-sources wagering on Keeneland totaled $122,844,887, down 12 percent from last year's $139,660,179.

Keeneland's new dirt surface, which was installed this summer on the main track, performed exceptionally well despite the trials posed by October's inclement weather.

“The new drainage system was tested from the outset of the meet, but we are very pleased with its ability to handle all the rain,” Keeneland Vice President of Racing Rogers Beasley said. “The track played very fair throughout the season, and winners were balanced between speed-favoring and come-from-behind horses, favorites and longshots.”

The quality of Keeneland's Fall Meet is evident in the fact that 38 horses who raced and/or trained here have been pre-entered in the Breeders' Cup World Championships at Santa Anita on Oct. 31-Nov. 1. Keeneland will be represented by both dirt and turf stars, including such Breeders' Cup Challenge winners as Work All Week (Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix-G3), Carpe Diem (Claiborne Breeders' Futurity-G1), Don't Tell Sophia (Juddmonte Spinster-G1), Lawn Ranger (Dixiana Bourbon-G3) and Rainha Da Bateria (JPMorgan Chase Jessamine-G3).

Fall Stars Saturday, Oct. 4, produced a thrilling win by fan favorite and reigning two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan in the Shadwell Turf Mile (G1), Keeneland's first $1 million race. Grand Arch, pre-entered for the Breeders' Cup Mile (G1), finished second.

Jockey John Velazquez's victory aboard Wise Dan in the Shadwell Turf Mile was one of three Grade 1 wins he recorded that day, the others coming in the Claiborne Breeders' Futurity with Carpe Diem and the First Lady with Dayatthespa. Velazquez won a total of five races on the Oct. 4 card, marking the first five-win day since Joel Rosario on April 25, 2013.

“This October gave us many memorable racing moments,” Beasley said. “One of the most exciting aspects, and another indicator of the quality of racing here this Fall, was the strong competition among the nation's top trainers and jockeys for Keeneland meet leader titles, which weren't decided until deep into closing day.”

Average daily purses of $651,558 for the Fall Meet continued to rank among the nation's highest. Field size averaged 8.42 starters per race compared to 9.85 in the 2013