Keeneland is to continue its sponsorship of one of Europe's top juvenile races, the Group 1 Keeneland Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh, for a further three years.
The six-furlong event, won this season by champion two-year-old elect Air Force Blue, has been sponsored by Keeneland since 2010. This latest contract extension will go through to 2018, when the redeveloped Curragh Racecourse is scheduled to be unveiled.
Air Force Blue, a $490,000 graduate of Keeneland's September Sale, went on to win the Group 1 Goffs Vincent O'Brien National Stakes and Group 1 Dubai Dewhurst Stakes following his victory in August. He won the Champion Two-Year-Old prize at both the recent Cartier and Racehorse Owners Association Awards and is expected to officially be named Europe's top-rated juvenile of 2015.
The Keeneland Phoenix Stakes is Europe's first Group One two-year-old race of the season and other recent winners include Holy Roman Emperor, George Washington, Johannesburg, Mastercraftsman, Saoirse Abu and Zoffany.
The Keeneland Association, based at Lexington in Kentucky, operates both the world's largest thoroughbred sales company and an iconic racecourse, which hosted the Breeders' Cup in October. It has enjoyed a long and happy relationship with the Irish racing and breeding communities.
Keeneland and the Curragh have undertaken various initiatives to enhance the Phoenix Stakes afternoon and there will again be free family admission in 2016 when the race takes place on Sunday, August 7.
Evan Arkwright, Commercial Manager of the Curragh Racecourse, commented: "The Curragh Racecourse is very grateful for the continued support of Keeneland, which in addition to backing one of our major Group 1 races, has also greatly enhanced its sponsorship by working with us on a very successful family race day theme. Their extension to the contract will ensure they will be part of the redeveloped racecourse which all being well will be completed in 2018."
Bill Thomason, President and CEO of Keeneland, added: "Keeneland greatly appreciates the longstanding participation of clients from Ireland in our sales and racing. We are especially delighted about the success of Keeneland September Yearling Sale graduate Air Force Blue, who won this year's Keeneland Phoenix Stakes during his championship campaign. Keeneland is privileged to once again partner with the Curragh as the Phoenix Stakes race sponsor. With the changes to come for the Curragh, we look forward to many exciting times ahead."