Keeneland

Keeneland

:"For the town in Jefferson County, Kentucky, see Keeneland, Kentucky."

Keeneland is a thoroughbred horse racing facility and sales complex in Lexington, Kentucky. Operated by the Keeneland Association, it is also known for its reference library on the sport founded in 1939 which contains more than ten thousand volumes plus an extensive videocassette collection and a substantial assemblage of photo negatives and newspaper clippings.

History

Keeneland was founded in 1935 as a nonprofit racing/auction entity on 147 acres of farmland west of Lexington, which had been owned by Jack Keene. From its onset it has used proceeds from races and its auctions to further the Thoroughbred industry as well as contributing back to the surrounding community. The racing side of Keeneland, Keeneland Race Course, has conducted live race meets in April and October since 1936. It added a grass course in 1985. The spring meet contains several preps for the Kentucky Derby (held the first Saturday in May), the most notable of which is the Blue Grass Stakes. The fall meet features several Breeders' Cup preps.

Keeneland takes pride in maintaining racing traditions; it was the last track in North America to broadcast race calls over its public-address system, not doing so until 1997. Most of the racing scenes of the 2003 movie "Seabiscuit" were shot at Keeneland because its appearance has changed relatively little in the last several decades.

Lately, however, Keeneland has adopted several innovations. The most significant of which is the reshaping of the main track and replacement of the dirt surface with the proprietary Polytrack surface over the summer of 2006 in time for its fall race meeting. Rogers Beasley, current (2006) director of racing at Keeneland prefers to stress the track as selectively conservative. [http://www.bloodhorse.com/talkinhorses/RB092706.asp]

Keeneland Sales

In the thoroughbred racing world, Keeneland is equally famous for its other side—its sales operation. It holds four (previously five) annual horse auctions that attract buyers worldwide:
*January - Horses of All Ages:This sale, as its name implies, features horses of all ages. Breeding "seasons"—the rights to breed one mare to a specified stallion in a given year—are also sold at this auction.
*April - Two-Year-Olds in Training:This sale was added in 1993 in response to demand by owners wishing to buy horses in training.
*July - Selected Yearling:This sale, conducted from 1943 to 2002, was frequently considered the most prestigious thoroughbred sale in the world. Numerous champions, including 11 Kentucky Derby winners, were sold here. The yearlings sold here were selected by pedigree, and had to pass a physical conformation test before being allowed into the sales ring. The July sale has been canceled annually since 2003, and may be considered to be on "hiatus".
*September - Yearling:This sale, the world's largest sale of yearlings, has been conducted at various times in the fall since 1944, and was permanently moved to September in 1960. Yearlings sold here need not meet any pedigree or conformation tests unless they are to be sold in "Selected Sessions." In recent years, the September sale has produced a Kentucky Derby winner, an Epsom Derby winner, and a U.S. Horse of the Year.
*November - Breeding Stock:This sale features all horses capable of breeding, except for yearlings. Stallion "shares"—ownership interests in specific stallions—and seasons are also sold at this auction. Over the years, this has become the world's largest sale of thoroughbreds.

Keeneland also owns half interest in Turfway Park at Florence, Kentucky; casino and race track giant Harrah's Entertainment owns the other half interest. Through Turfway, Keeneland also owns a part of Kentucky Downs, near Franklin, Kentucky.

Keeneland is operated under the auspices of the Keeneland Association, which includes many of the top names in the Kentucky Thoroughbred racing industry. The association's influence is felt throughout the industry and in Kentucky politics; in recent years, its opposition to allowing slot machines at race tracks in the Commonwealth has largely squelched the issue on the floor of the General Assembly, though competition from riverboat casinos (and Keeneland's "strange bedfellows" partnership with Harrah's at Turfway) is starting to reduce that opposition by the association's members. This ownership arrangement also partially explains Keeneland's fondness for tradition.

Physical attributes

The track has a one and one-sixteenth mile (1710 m) Polytrack oval and a seven and one-half furlong (1509 m) turf oval. As noted earlier, the Polytrack surface was added between the 2006 April and October meetings.

Racing

The following stakes races are run at Keeneland:

Grade I races:
* Alcibiades Stakes
* Ashland Stakes
* Blue Grass Stakes
* Breeders' Futurity Stakes
* First Lady Stakes
* Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes
* Royal Chase for the Sport of Kings
* Shadwell Turf Mile Stakes
* Spinster Stakes

Grade II races:
* Beaumont Stakes
* Commonwealth Breeders' Cup Stakes
* Coolmore Lexington Stakes
* Maker's Mark Mile Stakes
* Raven Run Stakes
* Jenny Wiley Stakes

Grade III races:
* Ben Ali Stakes
* Bewitch Stakes
* Bourbon Stakes
* Fayette Stakes
* Fifth-Third Elkhorn Stakes
* Madison Stakes
* Perryville Stakes
* Phoenix Stakes
* Shakertown Stakes
* Sycamore Breeders' Cup Stakes
* Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes
* Transylvania Stakes
* Valley View Stakes

Non-graded stakes races:
* Appalachian Stakes
* Buffalo Trace Franklin County
* Clark County Stakes
* Stravinsky Stakes
* Doubledogdare Stakes
* Forerunner Stakes
* Jessamine County Stakes
* Lafayette Stakes
* Palisades Stakes
* Rood and Riddle Dowager
* Storm Cat Stakes
* Stravinsky Stakes
* Warfield Stakes
* Woodford County Stakes

References

* [http://www.keeneland.com Official site]
* [http://www.webpony.com/ WebPony Horseworld Connection] - Horse Search Engine, horse news and message board
* [http://www.keeneland.com/livesales/mediaguide/classicwinners.asp Classic Race winners sold at Keeneland Auction]


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