LEXINGTON, KY  - Keeneland kicks off its 2017 Spring Meet on Friday with a spectacular weekend of racing that features seven graded stakes worth $2.55 million, headlined by the $1 million Toyota Blue Grass (G2) and $500,000 Central Bank Ashland (G1), both major prep races on the Roads to the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Kentucky Oaks (G1), respectively.

The 15-day Spring Meet will be held April 7-28 with racing Wednesdays through Sundays. Post time for the first race is 1:05 p.m. ET daily. There is no racing Easter Sunday, April 16.

Rich Schedule Attracts Racing's Stars

Keeneland's spring racing program is one of the most lucrative in the country, highlighted by 16 stakes, 15 of which are graded events, worth a total of $4.325 million. This spring, average daily purses of $735,400 will be offered with purse increases that reflect new association purse money and revenue from historical racing operations. Purse money for maiden special weight races for older horses has increased from $60,000 last year to $70,000; allowance races are valued at $72,000 to $78,000; and purse money for all other races has been raised by $1,000 each.

Toyota Blue Grass and Central Bank Ashland Anchor Prestigious Racing Program

The Spring Meet opens Friday with the Transylvania (G3) Presented by Keeneland Select, a 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds on the turf. Purse money for the Transylvania has been elevated from $100,000 to $150,000 for 2017.

Keeneland has carded blockbuster days of racing on consecutive Saturdays, offering multiple stakes races that attract the nation's human and equine stars.

The Toyota Blue Grass and Central Bank Ashland lead a roster of five graded stakes slated for opening Saturday. The Toyota Blue Grass, for 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles, and the Central Bank Ashland, for 3-year-old fillies going 1 1/16 miles, are worth 100 points each to the winners on the Road to the Kentucky Derby and Road to the Kentucky Oaks, respectively.

NBC Sports Network will provide live coverage of the Toyota Blue Grass, along with the Wood Memorial (G2) at Aqueduct and Santa Anita Derby (G1), from 5:30-7:30 p.m. ET. Post time for the Toyota Blue Grass is 6:17 p.m.

Three other graded stakes form a strong undercard on Toyota Blue Grass Day and showcase top older horses, including the $300,000 Madison (G1), for fillies and mares and contested at 7 furlongs; $200,000 Shakertown (G2), for 3-year-olds and up at 5½ furlongs on the turf; and $250,000 Commonwealth (G3), for older horses over 7 furlongs.

Anchoring the second Saturday of racing, April 15, is the $350,000 Coolmore Jenny Wiley (G1), a 1 1/16-mile race for fillies and mares on the turf won last year by champion turf female Tepin. The Stonestreet Lexington, a 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds and one of the final preps on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, will carry a purse of $200,000, an increase of $50,000. Rounding out the day's card is the $200,000 Ben Ali (G3) for older horses racing 1 1/8 miles and $100,000 Giant's Causeway (L), a 5½-furlong turf race for fillies and mares.

A fourth Grade 1 stakes, the $300,000 Maker's 46 Mile, one of the sport's major early season turf stakes, will be held Friday, April 14. In 2016, Miss Temple City became the first filly to run in and also to win the Maker's 46 Mile.

Pick Four and Pick Five Opportunities Heighten Wagering Fun

Keeneland amps up the excitement throughout the spring with a series of lucrative Pick Four and Pick Five wagers. Opening Saturday features an All Stakes Pick Four and All Stakes Pick Five Presented by TVG. Play the $400,000-guaranteed All Stakes Pick Four on races 6-9: Commonwealth, Shakertown, Madison and Toyota Blue Grass. A $300,000-guaranteed All Stakes Pick Five will be offered on races 5-9, which kicks off with the Central Bank Ashland and includes the aforementioned stakes.

Keeneland will offer a $300,000-guaranteed All Stakes Pick Four on Saturday, April 15, on races 7-10: Ben Ali, Giant's Causeway, Stonestreet Lexington and Coolmore Jenny Wiley. A $300,000-guaranteed Pick Four also is slated for Saturday, April 22, on races 7-10, which includes the Dixiana Elkhorn (G2).

The popular Friday Pick Four Presented by TVG also returns this spring. On Friday, April 7, 14 and 21, Keeneland will offer a $200,000-guaranteed Pick Four on the final four races of the day.

Robust Social and Digital Media Keeps Fans In the Know This Spring

Keeneland continues its fan outreach via an expanding social and digital media presence. From the track's informative website, Keeneland.com, to the popular Toyota Blue Grass Weekend microsite and Race Day App, as well as an array of social media channels, Keeneland employs creative means to engage race fans.

Stay connected this spring via:

  • Visit Keeneland.com/media, a central hub for all the latest Spring Meet news, race-day video recaps and replays, photo galleries, bios of leading Keeneland trainers and jockeys, Media Guide statistics and racing history and social media feeds.
  • A microsite, Keeneland.com/bluegrass, is dedicated to Toyota Blue Grass Weekend. Fans can find the latest news on opening weekend stakes, profiles of contenders and bios on their connections, video and historical information and race charts.
  • Free Keeneland Race Day App offers a number of options for fans to make the race day more memorable. Among the features available at your fingertips: live streaming of Keeneland races and race replays; entries and results; wagering tools such as Expert Picks and Handicappers Consensus for each race card; special events information and a GPS-enabled interactive map of Keeneland. A Bet Simulator shows you each step in placing a wager, calculating the cost of a bet and projected simple will-pays. Race Day App users also receive exclusive access to daily promotions, contests and giveaways.
  • Fans can interact with Keeneland via these social media channels: Facebook @Keeneland, Instagram @Keeneland, Twitter @KeenelandRacing, Periscope @KeenelandRacing and Snapchat @KeenelandRacing.

Spring Meet Special Events Offer Fun and Philanthropic Support

The Spring Meet's world-class racing program is complemented by a special events calendar that offers fun for fans of all ages and interests while keeping with Keeneland's mission to provide philanthropic support to the Central Kentucky community. Among the highlights are:

  • Tailgating on The Hill - Fridays/Saturdays - Keeneland's official tailgating area features local food trucks, a jumbo television screen showing all the racing action, wagering, The Keeneland Shop kiosk and complimentary shuttles to the track. On Saturdays, popular local Bluegrass bands perform from noon-4 p.m.
  • Sunrise Trackside - a free, family friendly event Saturday mornings during the race meet. Breakfast With the Works: fans can enjoy breakfast from 7-8:30 a.m. while horses train on the main track. The morning continues with children's activities in the Kids Club Corner (7-9 a.m.); guided walking tours (7:30-10 a.m.); an equine-related demonstration in the Paddock (9 a.m.); a trackside handicapping seminar (11:30 a.m.); and a Q&A session with a jockey in the Paddock (12:05 p.m.).
  • College Scholarship Day - opening Friday, April 7 - full-time college students receive free general admission with a college ID and the opportunity to register to win one of ten $1,000 scholarships and prizes awarded after each of the day's races. Registration is available online and in Keeneland's College Zone in the North Terrace, where students will enjoy music, free snacks and other prize drawings from local vendors. For the second consecutive year, Jim and Linda McIngvale will award the $10,000 Runhappy Scholarship, named for their champion, to one full-time student through a random drawing. Keeneland hosts College Scholarship Day in partnership with the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association. Since the fall of 2002, nearly $300,000 in scholarship money has been distributed at Keeneland.
  • Maker's Mark Commemorative Bottle Signing - April 14 - held at the Keeneland Entertainment Center. Watch Keeneland.com for details. Proceeds from bottle sales benefit UK's Center for Academic and Tutorial Services (CATS). Sales of the commemorative Maker's Mark bottles have raised millions to benefit deserving causes in Central Kentucky.
  • Budweiser Clydesdales - April 12-15 - The world-famous Budweiser Clydesdales return to Keeneland for an on-track appearance and photo opportunities with fans. A single Budweiser Clydesdale will appear at the East Gate on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The Budweiser Clydesdales hitch will make an on-track appearance on Saturday, April 15.
  • Military Day at the Races Presented by Marathon - Sunday, April 23 - Keeneland honors men and women who serve our country with a day at the races. All active-duty, reserve, veterans and military families will receive free general admission with a military I.D. at any gate. The Military Family Zone in the North Terrace will offer free food, live music and more from noon to 4 p.m. Keeneland will celebrate the Month of the Military Child with children's activities throughout the afternoon.

Keeneland 2017 Spring Meet at a Glance

Gates Open: 11 a.m. ET
Post time: 1:05 p.m.; no racing Mondays, Tuesdays or Easter Sunday, April 16.
Admission: $5. Children 12 and under free.
Parking: Free (shuttles available throughout the grounds).
The Hill (Tailgate): Fridays and Saturdays. Near Keene Barn & Entertainment Center. Enter Gate 1 across from Man o' War Boulevard or via Gates 4 and 5 off Van Meter Road.
Simulcasting: Major Thoroughbred tracks in North America.
Website: Keeneland.com 
Social Media: Twitter @keenelandracing, Facebook and Instagram @keeneland, Snapchat and Periscope @keenelandracing