01/13/2003 12:00AM

Keeneland schedule gets two additional graded stakes


There is very little change from longstanding tradition in the stakes schedule, released Monday, for the Keeneland Race Course 2003 spring meet, which runs April 4-25.

In all, 19 stakes worth a total of nearly $3.7 million will be run during the 15-day spring meet, with the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes on April 12 serving as the traditional meet cornerstone. As usual, the $750,000 Blue Grass will be run three weeks before the Kentucky Derby.

Other major events are the Grade 1 Ashland Stakes on April 5, the Grade 2 Coolmore Lexington Stakes on April 19, and a Grade 1 steeplechase, the Royal Chase for the Sport of Kings, on closing day. At least one stakes race worth at least $100,000 will be run every day of the meet.

Two stakes that formerly carried "listed" ratings have been upgraded to Grade 3: the Transylvania on opening day, and the Shakertown on the Blue Grass undercard.

Keeneland, in Lexington, Ky., also will run a 17-day fall meet in October.