Updated on 09/15/2011 12:23PM

Stakes stacked early in meet


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - A front-loaded stakes schedule for the fall meet at Keeneland Race Course was announced Monday, with most of the major events scheduled for opening weekend because of the three-week time frame leading into the Oct. 27 Breeders' Cup championships at Belmont Park.

Keeneland officials said earlier this spring that they intended to revise the stakes schedule to accommodate horsemen who wished to prep their horses for the Breeders' Cup. Accordingly, six graded stakes will be run on the opening weekend of the meet, Oct. 5-7.

Those races are the WinStar Galaxy and Walmac International Alcibiades on Oct. 5; the Phoenix Breeders' Cup and Lane's End Breeders' Futurity on Oct. 6; and the Overbrook Spinster and Shadwell Keeneland Turf Mile on Oct. 7.

One of the most significant changes involves the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup, which historically had been run on opening weekend. Since the race typically has a lesser impact on the Breeders' Cup, it has been moved to Oct. 13 for this year's running.

As usual, Keeneland, which is in Lexington, Ky., will offer at least one stakes per day throughout the 17-day meet, which ends on Breeders' Cup day, Oct. 27. In all, 24 stakes worth more than $4.6 million are scheduled.

The fall meet initially was set to begin on Oct. 6, but Keeneland was granted an extra day by the Kentucky Racing Commission because of scheduling needs and will open a day early.