Keeneland Brings Home Record Spring Meet Handle Across the Board

Malathaat-Keeneland wrap

Keeneland enjoyed its third consecutive year of record Spring Meet handle, bringing in an all-sources handle of $219,284,979 for its just-concluded Spring Meet. That handle was the largest total in the Kentucky track’s history.

Malathaat-Keeneland wrapChampion 3-Year-Old Malathaat and John Velazquez made her 2022 debut April 22 with this resounding victory in the Grade 3 Doubledogdare at Keeneland. That was one of the racing highlights of a record Spring Meet at Keeneland. (Image: Keeneland/Coady Photography)

The more than $219 million from the 15-day meet that ended Friday represented a 33.16% increase over last spring’s previous record of $164,680,229. It also blew away Keeneland’s previous record of $181,009,626 set at last fall’s 17-day Fall Meet.

Daily average handle hit $14,618,999, a total reflecting several individual handle records. The Saturday, April 9 card, headlined by Zandon’s victory in the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes, brought in a record $28,137,728. One week later, on April 16, Keeneland brought in $27,304,001, the second-largest total in track history

On that Blue Grass Day card, which featured 11 races – five stakes — Keeneland took in a record $1,357,298 in Pick 4 handle. It also brought in a record $1,539,098 in Pick 5 handle. The track’s Turf Pick 3 wager averaged $128,617 for its 12 days. This marked the second meet that wager, requiring bettors to hit the final three turf races each day, was on the menu.

Keeneland spreads the wealth around

Keeneland’s owners, trainers and jockeys enjoyed record purses as well. Daily purses averaged a record $1,147,834. That represented a massive 55.13% increase over 2021’s average of $739,902. The track returned a record $7.7 million in purses for its 19 stakes.

“All credit and thanks should start with the owners and trainers who sent us such a talented and deep group of horses to fill our race cards,” Keeneland Vice President of Racing Gatewood Bell said in statement. “Those connections and horses in turn attracted the deepest jockey colony in the country, who together, put on an amazing show all meet long.”

Tyler Gaffalione emerged from that jockey colony to take the riding title. His 19 victories gave him his first spring title and fifth overall. Gaffalione earned seven of those on two days: winning four races on April 9 and three more April 15. He captured two stakes races: the Grade 2 Appalachian and Grade 3 Commonwealth.

Prat acclimates himself well in Kentucky

Irad Ortiz (18) and Kentucky newcomer Flavien Prat (15) rounded out the top three. Ortiz won three stakes, including the Grade 1 Ashland Oaks aboard Nest. Prat won the Blue Grass with a virtuoso ride on Zandon and the Grade 1 Madison aboard Just One Time.

Wesley Ward captured his sixth Spring Meet title and eighth overall, saddling 13 winners. Three of those came in stakes races, led by Golden Pal winning the Grade 2 Shakertown and Campanelle taking the Listed Giant’s Causeway.

Brad Cox was second with 11. His marquee wins included that Madison with Just One Time and the Lexington Stakes with Tawny Port. Chad Brown finished third with nine wins. Two of those were Grade 1s: the Blue Grass with Zandon and the Jenny Wiley with Regal Glory.

Barbara Banke’s Stonestreet Stables led the owner’s table with five wins. That marked the barn’s first meet title.

Author: Justin Graves