01/13/2003 12:00AM

Keeneland schedule gets two additional graded stakes

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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.