01/15/2010 1:00AM

Keeneland schedules 16 stakes for spring


Keeneland Race Course on Friday released the for its 2010 spring meet with only minimal change from last year.

In all, 16 stakes worth $3.65 million will be run at the 15-day meet, which will be highlighted as usual by the Grade 1, $750,000 Blue Grass Stakes on April 10. Other Grade 1 events occupying their customary spots on a front-loaded stakes schedule are the $400,000 Central Bank Ashland Stakes on April 3, the $300,000 Vinery Madison on April 8, and the $300,000 Maker's Mark Mile on April 9.

Besides the new sponsorship of the Ashland, only these two changes are in effect for the stakes schedule: the $100,000 Fort Harrod Stakes, a 1 5/8-mile Polytrack race for older horses, was dropped, while the $100,000 Transylvania Stakes on opening day, April 2, underwent a $50,000 purse cut.

Keeneland, located in Lexington, Ky., will run its spring meet through April 23, with dark days being Mondays, Tuesdays, and Easter Sunday (April 4).

The 1 1/8-mile Blue Grass, long a critical prep for the Kentucky Derby, will be broadcast live by NBC Sports as part of the new package of televised preps. The new series was created by NBC in partnership with Churchill Downs and is being called the Road to the Kentucky Derby.

The $300,000 Coolmore Lexington Stakes, another Derby prep which will be run April 17, is one of five Grade 2 races on the spring schedule.