Keeneland 5-day, fan-free summer meet approved

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The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has approved Keeneland’s request for a five-day, spectator-free meet July 8-12 that will allow the running of marquee prep races for the rescheduled Kentucky Derby and Oaks.

Keeneland canceled its 16-day spring meet in March amid public health concerns because of the coronavirus outbreak. That initially eliminated the $600,000 Grade 2 Blue Grass and $400,000 Grade 1 Ashland, which award points toward the Derby and its sister race for fillies, Oaks. The track last week requested the special meet, which the KHRC granted after Ellis Park made the dates available.

The Ashland and Blue Grass are now back in play for the Oaks and Derby, which are set for Sept. 4-5 at Churchill Downs in Louisville.

“Keeneland appreciates the quick response of the Commission to our request, and we applaud all their work on behalf of Kentucky racing during these unprecedented times,” said Keeneland President/CEO Bill Thomason, who also thanked Ellis Park in a news release.

Added Ellis Park general manager Jeffrey Inman, “We are all in this together, and Ellis Park is pleased to work with Keeneland on a plan that benefits our horsemen and Kentucky racing.”

Keeneland plans to run at least nine races each day and will feature 10 graded stakes events.

Pegasus on Jan. 28, Florida Derby on April 1 at Gulfstream

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. — Gulfstream Park announced the schedule for the 2022-23 Championship Meet, highlighted by the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational on Jan. 28.

Also on Pegasus day: The $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational, as well as the $500,000 Pegasus World Cup Filly & Mare Turf.

Gulfstream’s top Kentucky Derby prep race, the $1 million Florida Derby, will be run on April 1 as part of a card with 10 stakes races. Other top 3-year-old preps at Gulfstream in early 2023 include the $150,000 Mucho Macho Man on Jan. 1, the $250,000 Holy Bull on Feb. 4 and the $400,000 Fountain of Youth on March 4.

The Pegasus is returning for a seventh time. The format has changed several times in the race’s infancy; the purse structure for the Pegasus World Cup no longer requires owners to put up $1 million apiece for a spot in the starting gate for what was, at its inception, the world’s richest race with a purse that reached $16 million.

This much has remained constant: Winning the Pegasus changes a horse’s resume. No Pegasus winner has ever finished worse than sixth in the yearlong earnings among North American horses, and two past winners – Arrogate and Gun Runner – are two of the three highest-earning thoroughbreds in U.S. history.

Gulfstream’s Championship Meet runs from Dec. 26 through April 2, featuring 60 stakes races, 35 of them graded, and worth a combined $13.6 million.

Stradivarius, 3-time Ascot Gold Cup winner, retired to stud

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LONDON – Stradivarius, one of the most famous racehorses in Britain and Ireland after winning the Gold Cup at Ascot three times, has been retired to stud.

Bjorn Nielsen, the owner of Stradivarius, said he felt it would be unfair to make the horse come back next season as a 9-year-old after time away with a bruised foot.

“It has been a fairytale from start to finish,” Nielsen told British newspaper The Racing Post.

Stradivarius, bred in Ireland and the son of Sea The Stars, won 20 of his 35 races – including seven Group One races – and earned almost 3.5 million pounds (now $3.8 million) in prize money.

Stradivarius won four Goodwood Cups, three Yorkshire Cups and two Doncaster Cups.