It’s set to be a busy fall at Keeneland, and preparations are well underway as the horse racing world shifts its attention to the historic Lexington race course.
The Fall Meet at Keeneland will run from Friday through Oct. 29, with the highly anticipated Breeders’ Cup World Championships (14 races with awards and purses totaling more than $31 million) returning to Keeneland for the third time on Nov. 4-5.
But up first is the Fall Meet, which will feature 22 stakes races worth a record $8.9 million during the 17-day meet.
Several of these stakes races will also serve as win-and-in events as part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series.
The first race each day of the Fall Meet will go off at 1 p.m.
Before the racing returns to Keeneland this fall, here’s what you need to know.
Fall Meet begins with showcase weekend
Like usual, the Fall Meet at Keeneland will begin with a bang with Fall Stars Weekend, a three-day run featuring the top races of the meet.
Of the 22 stakes races that will be run during the Fall Meet, 11 of them (worth $5.45 million) will be run during opening weekend.
All nine stakes races that will serve as win-and-in events for the Breeders’ Cup will be run on opening weekend.
Each winner of a challenge series race will receive an automatic starting position and free entry into the corresponding race in the Breeders’ Cup.
The full stakes schedule for the Fall Meet is as follows:
▪ Friday, Oct. 7: $500,000, Grade 1 Darley Alcibiades; $350,000, Grade 2 Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix; and the $350,000, Grade 2 JPMorgan Chase Jessamine.
▪ Saturday, Oct. 8: $1 million, Grade 1 Coolmore Turf Mile; $600,000, Grade 1 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity; $750,000, Grade 1 First Lady; $350,000, Grade 2 Thoroughbred Club of America; and the $350,000 Grade 2 Woodford.
▪ Sunday, Oct. 9: $600,000, Grade 1 Juddmonte Spinster; $350,000, Grade 2 Castle & Key Bourbon; and the $250,000, Listed Indian Summer.
The only stakes races on opening weekend that aren’t win-and-in Breeders’ Cup events are the First Lady and the Woodford, both to be run on Saturday.
▪ Friday, Oct. 14: $300,000, Grade 3 Sycamore.
▪ Saturday, Oct. 15: $600,000, Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup.
▪ Sunday, Oct. 16: $300,000, Grade 3 Franklin.
▪ Saturday, Oct. 22: $350,000, Grade 2 Lexus Raven Run and $250,000, Listed Perryville.
▪ Sunday, Oct. 23: $300,000, Grade 3 Rood & Riddle Dowager (G3).
▪ Friday, Oct. 28: $300,000, Grade 3 Rubicon Valley View and $200,000 Myrtlewood.
▪ Saturday, Oct. 29: $350,000, Grade 2 Hagyard Fayette; $300,000, Grade 3 Bryan Station; and the $200,000 Bowman Mill.
Fall meet stakes to be worth record amount
The 22 stakes races (12 on grass, 10 on dirt) that will take place during the Fall Meet at Keeneland will be worth a record $8.9 million.
This surpasses the previous Keeneland meet record of $7.7 million that was awarded for 22 stakes races during the Spring Meet this year.
This year’s Spring Meet at Keeneland also featured a record amount of $219 million for the all-sources handle.
For this Fall Meet, multiple stakes races will be run on six days: Friday, Saturday and Sunday, plus Oct. 22, 28 and 29.
The stakes race that’s worth the most this October?
The $1 million, Grade 1 Coolmore Turf Mile on Saturday, Oct. 8.
Several horses aim to repeat as champions
Nominations or entries have already been taken for the stakes races on opening weekend of the Fall Meet.
Among the standout horses are:
▪ Special Reserve (defending champion of Friday’s Phoenix and the 2-1 favorite this year);
▪ Golden Pal (a past Breeders’ Cup winner who is undefeated in three Keeneland starts, and is the defending champion of Saturday’s Woodford);
▪ Letruska (defending champion of Sunday’s Juddmonte Spinster).
The Coolmore Turf Mile on Saturday, the race’s 37th running, features 2020 winner Ivar (Brazil), trained by Paulo Lobo.
The Aidan O’Brien-trained Order of Australia (Ireland) — a former Breeders’ Cup winner in 2020 at Keeneland — is also among the entrants for the Turf Mile.
Bob Baffert allowed to race horses again at Keeneland
Earlier this year, polarizing horse trainer Bob Baffert was unable to enter any horses in Keeneland’s Spring Meet while serving a 90-day suspension issued to him by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.
That suspension ended in early July, which means Baffert has since been able to train horses and enter them in races, at least at the tracks that will allow him to.
As such, the Fall Meet at Keeneland is expected to feature several of Baffert’s horses, especially with the Breeders’ Cup on the horizon.
Baffert has two horses (Carmel Road and Newgate) entered in the $600,000, Grade 1 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity, to be run Saturday. The 1 1/16-mile race for 2-year-olds is a points race on the 2023 Road to the Kentucky Derby, a race in which the Hall of Fame trainer will not be able to participate because of an ongoing two-year suspension at Churchill Downs.
Baffert has enjoyed plenty of success at Keeneland over the years, including winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic with American Pharoah (2015) and Authentic (2020) each of the two previous times the race was run at Keeneland.
Tickets for the Fall Meet at Keeneland have been on sale to the public since Aug. 16 at tickets.Keeneland.com.
In similar fashion to previous meets at Keeneland, all general admission, grandstand and dining tickets must be pre-purchased online or through the Keeneland Race Day app.
Cash and walk-up purchases on race days will only be permitted at the Keeneland Welcome Center Ticket Office windows if inventory remains.
For the Fall Meet at Keeneland, seating will also be available in two venues constructed for the Breeders’ Cup, the Saddling Paddock Chalet and Loge Boxes on the track apron.
The buildout for increased seating at Keeneland is well underway.
Fall meet runs October 7 - October 29.
Breeders’ Cup world championships on Nov. 4 and Nov. 5. pic.twitter.com/puBcaDzn4q
— Cameron Drummond (@cdrummond97) September 28, 2022
Daily attendance will be limited to approximately 20,000 fans.
General admission tickets are $7 if purchased in advance, and $10 for day-of tickets.
Season passes, which offer general admission access throughout the meet, are available for $40 each.
Keeneland offers a ticket return policy of up to 48 hours in advance of race day.
Once again Keeneland will offer a tailgating area at The Hill, for which no reservation or ticket is required. On Fridays and Saturdays, The Hill will feature a Jumbotron and wagering tent, along with food trucks and live music.
Fans interested in a premium tailgating package featuring amenities, a reserved area, tables, a tent and more should visit Keeneland.com/tailgating.
For the Breeders’ Cup in November, people interested in tickets should visit breederscup.com/2022.
Opening weekend of the Fall Meet will feature several stakes races broadcast on television on CNBC.
The Coolmore Turf Mile and Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity on Saturday, and the Juddmonte Spinster and Castle & Key Bourbon on Sunday will all be shown live.
Television coverage on both days will start at 5 p.m.
For the Breeders’ Cup on Nov. 4-5, television coverage will be provided by NBC Sports.