05/13/2007 11:00PM

Keeneland stakes lineup reflects Cup expansion


Keeneland Race Course has front-loaded its fall stakes schedule to an even higher degree in recognition of the expansion of the Breeders' Cup program, officials at the Lexington, Ky., track announced Monday.

Besides the usual Breeders' Cup preps on its three-day opening weekend, known as FallStars Weekend, Keeneland has reshuffled and expanded the program to reflect what is being done for the first time with the Breeders' Cup, which has expanded from eight to 11 championship races for the 24th Breeders' Cup at Monmouth Park in New Jersey on Oct. 26-27. The opening weekend now will include the $300,000 Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes, for filly and mare sprinters, and the $150,000 Bourbon Stakes, for 2-year-olds on the turf. Also, the $150,000 Jessamine, for 2-year-old fillies on turf, has been moved up to Oct. 11, which conceivably would allow a horse to run back at Monmouth.

Keeneland's director of racing, Rogers Beasley, said in a release that the new schedule will allow fans "a chance to see many of the superstars being pointed toward the Breeders' Cup."

In all, there are 19 stakes, including five Grade 1's, scheduled for a 17-day meet that runs Oct. 5 to 27. Nine of the stakes will be run on opening weekend (Oct. 5-7), including the Grade 1 Alcibiades on Oct. 5, the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile and Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity on Oct. 6, and the Grade 1 Spinster on Oct. 7. Total purses for the stakes schedule will exceed $5.3 million, the most in track history. Several races received purse increases, which accounts for the record level, most notably the Alcibiades, which got a $100,000 hike to $500,000.