Keeneland hosts September Yearling Sale

By Morgan Lafferty

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Keeneland began its September Yearling Sale on Monday and attracted buyers, sellers and observers from around the world.

Many racehorses are foaled, raised, and sold off in Lexington every year. With buyers and participants from over 50 different countries, the Keeneland Yearling Sale is the largest yearling sale in the world.

“We’re truly the barometer for the health of the entire industry, so the first (book) shows us good signs that we’re going to have a strong sale and a strong year,” said Christa Marrillia, director of marketing for Keeneland.

So far, there have been 11 yearlings sold for $1 million or more. The highest bid price was on hip number 614, a roan colt sired by the prizewinning horse named Tapit. Hip number 614’s bid price closed at $2,100,000. Other big sellers have been yearlings from War Front, Distorted Humor, Medaglia d’Oro, Street Cry and Fastnet Rock.

Fastnet Rock’s filly, hip number 443, has been the highest-priced filly sold so far in the sales.

Even though War Front is a strong, young stallion, Tapit has outnumbered War Front in the number of yearlings sold. War Front yearlings are also not as common as Tapit yearlings.

But choosing a yearling is not as easy as it seems, according to Marrillia. It takes smart people, a smart team, and a little bit of luck to choose a horse who will bring its owner to the winner’s circle.

“A lot of people don’t realize that the Keeneland Yearling Sale is kind of like the NBA draft — but finding Michael Jordan when he’s 12 years old,” Marrillia said. “So these horses are all a year old; they’ve never had a saddle on their backs, they haven’t been trained, and so these buyers are looking at pedigree.”

According to an economic impact study Keeneland did with UK, Keeneland generates over $600 million to the local economy through racing and sales product alone.

“The yearling sale has started out very strong,” Marrillia said.

The yearling sale is open to the public and will run again Sept. 18 to Sept. 26. Tony Lacy, a partner at Four Star Sales, said potential buyers should look for “soundness, good confirmation and … something with a good attitude and a good disposition.”