LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) – Bluegrass Day at Keeneland broke betting records from 2019.
Keeneland reported that over $28 million was wagered on the eleven races combined Saturday, beating its 2019 Bluegrass Day record of $25 million wagered.
The stakes were higher than opening day, as day two of Keeneland hosted the Kentucky Derby qualifying race, Toyota Bluegrass Stakes.
The crowd’s favorite was horse, ‘Smile Happy,’ who came in second. Owner, Corey Lanerie, was pleased.
“It’s a good day,” Lanerie said. “He didn’t need to do any better than third. So he’s got what 70 points now, so we’ll see him run on May 7.”
Along with Lanerie, numerous racing managers, trainers, investors, and fellow owners watched with high hopes to see if their horses would qualify for Church Hill Downs in four weeks.
Phillip Shelton, Racing Manager of Medallion Racing, said there were high expectations Saturday.
“I think that’s what makes Keeneland so appealing for everybody. The purse money is unbelievable, for the horses if they can win, and it’s the best horses in the country are all coming here to run,” Shelton said.
Despite how the quality of thoroughbreds drive up the competition for the business and its players, the reward for fighting for slot is still greater.
One horse investor, Brett Setzer, who mainly deals with fillies more than colts, said, “It’s kinda tough to get in, lot of tough horses here trying to get in a lot of limited races.”
Shelton said, “It’s kind of a chance to see how you stack up, and if you run well, which is a big if but you run well, you’re on your way to having a really successful year.”
Already by day two, Keeneland has bounced back from the pandemic’s setbacks.
“So pre-COVID, Keeneland had an economic impact of a half a billion dollars, a half a billion dollars,” J. Taylor Davis, DFG advisory, said.
Davis said the limited capcity took a good chunk of change out of Keeneland’s business for a couple years, but the 2022 opening weekend shows expectancy of revenue getting back to a half billion dollars a year.
“Between sales, between the meets, the food and beverage, everything that Keeneland really represents here in Kentucky its a large, large impact,” Davis said. “Keeneland’s back.”