Ten Things You Should Know: Phoenix Stakes
By Kevin Martin, Hello Race Fans Contributing Editor
Originally published on October 5, 2012
1) The Grade 3 Phoenix Stakes is a 6-furlong sprint for horses 3-years-old and up run at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Kentucky. This year’s edition is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge race with the winner earning a berth in the BC Sprint in November.
2) Run for the first time in 1831, the Phoenix Stakes is considered by some racing historians as the oldest thoroughbred race in the United States.
3) The race is named for the Phoenix Hotel, a well-known hotel in Lexington, Kentucky that opened in 1820.
4) The race was originally run at the Kentucky Association track in Lexington. Starting in 1898, the race disappeared for two stretches (1898 to 1904 and 1906 to 1910) before its final run at the Kentucky Association in 1930. It was revived for the Keeneland meeting in 1937. From 1943 to 1945, the Phoenix was hosted by Churchill Downs.
6) The following year, in 1876, Vagrant won the Phoenix Stakes. He won the second-ever running of the Kentucky Derby.
7) In 1905, a colt named Agile won the Phoenix Stakes. A few months later, he had to beat only two other horses to win the 31st edition of the Kentucky Derby.
8) The 3-year-old Coaltown won the Phoenix Stakes in just his third career race in 1948. He would be voted that year’s champion sprinter and go on to win 23 times from 39 career starts. He entered racing’s Hall of Fame in 1983 and was ranked #47 in the Bloodhorse’s Top 100 Racehorses of the 20th Century.
9) In 1952, early in his 3-year-old season, Hill Gail set a track record in the Phoenix Stakes. He would go on to win the 1952 Santa Anita Derby and Kentucky Derby.