12/05/2006 1:00AM

Spring meet to unveil Blue Grass on Polytrack


Keeneland Race Course on Tuesday released its stakes schedule for the 2007 spring meet - the first spring meet on the track's new artificial surface - with no changes in traditional race dates and a projected record in purse totals.

Nineteen stakes, including 15 graded races, will be run at the Lexington, Ky., track during a 15-day meet from April 6 to April 27. Nearly $4.3 million in stakes purses will be paid out.

This is the second meet that Keeneland will run on its new Polytrack surface, which was first used during the 2006 fall meet in October. Nine of the 19 spring stakes will be run on Polytrack, including the highlight of the spring schedule, the $750,000 Blue Grass Stakes, a Grade 1 prep for the Kentucky Derby. The Blue Grass will be run April 14.

Other major races include the Grade 1 Ashland, to be run April 7; the Grade 2 Maker's Mark Mile on April 13; the Grade 1 Royal Chase for the Sport of Kings, a steeplechase set for April 20; and the Grade 2 Lexington Stakes on April 21.

In all, a total of $4,275,000 in stakes purses is projected, up $50,000 from 2006. The increase is attributable to the purse for the April 25 Bewitch Stakes, rising from $100,000 to $150,000.

Besides the Bewitch purse hike, the only other notable change was an upgrade of the April 18 Doubledogdare to Grade 3 status. No big races were moved from their traditional spots on the calendar.