The 97th running of the Grade 2 Blue Grass Stakes and the 84th running of the Grade 1 Ashland headline Keeneland’s 2021 Spring Meet, which runs April 2-23 at the Lexington, Kentucky, track.

Keeneland Turf-Spring '21
Keeneland offers 10 turf stakes races on its 15-day Spring Meet. It begins April 2 and runs through April 23. (Image: Coady Photography)

The Blue Grass is one of the last Kentucky Derby preps. Last year, it featured a stellar duel between winner Art Collector and filly Swiss Skydiver. The filly turned the tables in the Preakness, beating fourth-place Art Collector in that final Triple Crown race of 2020.

Keeneland-Key Spring Meet Stakes Races

Date Race Grade Distance Eligible Horses
April 3 Blue Grass II 1-1/8 miles 3-Year-Old Males
April 3 Ashland I 1-1/16-miles 3-Year-Old Fillies
April 3 Madison I 7 furlongs 4-Year-Old and Up Fillies & Mares
April 3 Appalachian II 1 mile (turf) 3-Year-Old Fillies
April 3 Shakertown II 5-1/2 furlongs (turf) 4-Year-Olds and Up Males
April 9 Maker’s Mark I 1 mile (turf) 4-Year-Olds and Up Males
April 10 Jenny Wiley I 1-1/16 miles (turf) 4-Year-Old and Up Fillies & Mares
April 17 Elkhorn II 1-1/2 miles (turf) 4-Year-Olds and Up Males

The Ashland is one of the primary Kentucky Oaks preps. Last year, Speech captured the race in record time, covering the 1-1/16 miles in 1:41.26 at 4/1.

This year, both races headline the Saturday, April 3 card as two of six stakes on that day’s slate. Both races offer 100 qualifying points to their respective runners.

Keeneland Takes Stakes Seriously

Back in its traditional April slot, Keeneland’s Spring Meet offers 18 stakes worth $4.1 million. Eight of the stakes are on dirt and 10 on turf over its 15 days. Four of the days feature multiple stakes races.

“With the cancellation of last year’s Spring Meet because of the pandemic, it is critical to the Thoroughbred industry that we are able to offer our full slate of April stakes on their traditional dates,” Keeneland President and CEO Shannon Arvin said in a release. “These races are key fixtures on the international racing calendar.”

The first of those is opening day on Friday, April 2. Two Grade 3s highlight the day, spotlighted by the Beaumont, another Oaks prep race offering 10 points to the winner.

That April 3 Card Provides Punters Plenty

Joining the Blue Grass and Ashland on the April 3 card is the Grade 1 Madison Stakes for older fillies and mares. There are also two Grade 2s, the mile Appalachian for 3-year-old fillies on the grass and the Shakertown, a turf sprint for 3-year-olds and up.

Keeneland’s other two Grade 1s take place the following weekend. Friday, April 9 features the Maker’s Mark Mile, which sends 4-year-olds and up a mile on Keeneland’s turf course. The 1-1/16-mile Jenny Wiley – one of the premier filly and mare races of the spring — headlines four stakes on the following day.

Keeneland officials haven’t determined a spectator plan. Arvin said they are “working on plans for ticketing options under our COVID-19 safety protocols and we plan to make an announcement in the next few weeks.”