02/19/2016 4:01PM

Pick four links Blue Grass Stakes, Wood Memorial


Keeneland Racecourse in Lexington, Ky., and Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, N.Y., plan to offer a pick four on April 9 that will link the tracks’ biggest Kentucky Derby prep races.

The pick four, which was approved by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission on Friday, will include the Blue Grass Stakes and Ashland Stakes at Keeneland plus the Wood Memorial and another stakes race at Aqueduct that day. The bet will be hosted by Keeneland, so takeout for the pick four wager will be 19 percent.

The $1 million Blue Grass and $1 million Wood Memorial perennially attract leading Kentucky Derby contenders. The $500,000 Ashland Stakes is Keeneland’s richest race for 3-year-old fillies during the spring meet.

Also at the Kentucky racing commission meeting on Monday, the commission’s executive director, Marc Guilfoil, confirmed that Will T. Farmer, the chief state veterinarian for the commission since 2012, has been fired by the administration of Gov. Matt Bevin, who took office late last year.

Farmer was popular among the state’s horsemen and veterinary community, but his position in state government was categorized as “non-merit,” meaning he was an appointee. Governors in Kentucky typically fire large portions of non-merit employees after they take office, filling the positions with other individuals more closely aligned with their party. Farmer was appointed during the administration of Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat. Bevin is a Republican.

“We all serve at the pleasure of the governor,” said Guilfoil, who was elevated to the executive director position at the commission after John Ward stepped down earlier this year. Ward had been told that he would be fired before he resigned, he said in an interview at the time.

Farmer is being replaced by Bruce Howard, who was a staff veterinarian.