01/14/2014 2:36PM

Keeneland spring stakes schedule largely unchanged

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Officials at Keeneland Race Course on Tuesday released the stakes schedule for its 2014 spring meet with minimal change from the status quo.

In all, 16 stakes worth more than $3.7 million will be run at the Lexington, Ky., track, with the Grade 1, $750,000 Blue Grass Stakes serving as the traditional highlight on April 12. All but one of the stakes are graded events.

Changes include $50,000 purse increases to the April 13 Beaumont Stakes and the April 25 Elkhorn. Both are now worth $200,000.

Because the Easter holiday falls this year on Sunday, April 20, one more stakes race than usual will be held the preceding Saturday, with the Grade 3 Coolmore Lexington Stakes anchoring a stakes triple-header.

The stakes schedule is front-loaded as usual in anticipation of the major races during Kentucky Derby week at Churchill Downs. Besides the Blue Grass, other big races during the opening portion of the meet include the Grade 1 Ashland on April 5 and the Grade 1 Maker’s 46 Mile, which could mark the first start of the season for 7-year-old Wise Dan on April 11.

The 15-day meet runs April 4-25.