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Keeneland Creates Book 1 Bonus for September Sale
Thursday, April 13, 2017 RSS Feeds

Keeneland announced a new program April 12 that will pay a cash bonus to any Book 1 September yearling sale graduate that wins a grade 1 or group 1 stakes anywhere in the world. The bonus will be split between the seller and buyer.

The Lexington sale company will commit $750,000 to the rewards pool for the first year, which will apply to Book 1 graduates of this year and be offered to top-level winners during their 2-year-old and 3-year-old campaigns. 

The rewards will be capped at $500,000 per horse and a double bonus will be paid to any eligible horse that wins a grade 1 at Keeneland.

How the Keeneland September Book 1 Bonus Will Work

"The Keeneland September sale is where we bring the best horses in the world (together) with people from all over the world and who compete all over the world," said Keeneland president Bill Thomason. "Our bonus program will showcase horses of the highest quality who begin their careers here and go on to compete at the highest levels."

Sellers and owners of grade 1 winners in the U.S. or Canada—or Keeneland's marquee Toyota Blue Grass Stakes, which is currently grade 2—or group 1 winners in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, Great Britain, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Peru, South Africa, and the United Arab Emirates, will be eligible for the bonus. 

The reward pool will be expanded to $1.5 million for 2017 and 2018 September Book 1 graduates in 2019. Any bonus money that is not paid out in the first year will be carried over to the next year's bonus pool.

Keeneland also announced other enhancements to the September sale. 

The sale will open Sept. 11 with a single Book 1 evening session featuring 200 yearlings. The following day will start Book 2, which will catalog 1,050 yearlings to be sold from Sept. 12-14. About 350 horses will be offered each day.

The September sale's dark day will be Sept. 15, with selling resuming Sept. 16 and continuing through Sept. 23.

"We've listened to our customers and made adjustments to the structure of the sale to meet their needs," said Bob Elliston, Keeneland's vice president of racing and sales. "In addition to the format change for week one of the sale, we are working with consignors to streamline stabling and the flow of activity in the barn area. We want to evolve our sales operation to enhance the overall experience for our clients."

“It’s great the way they’ve done this,” Duncan Taylor of leading consignor Taylor Made Sales Agency said of the bonus scheme. “It is not just one race where somebody wins all the money. A lot of people can benefit if they come here and buy top horses.”

Taylor said a challenge for the sales company and consignors will be deciding which horses are cataloged in Book 1, noting it should not only be based on breeding.

“The challenge for Keeneland is to get the right 200 horses,” he said. “And to get the sellers to agree that it’s the right 200 horses. I’m hoping that if I have a $200,000 horse that is a great-looking horse, that horse would go into that session. You are looking for the best individuals. If there are 200 well-bred horses that look great and are by Tapit  , War Front  , Medaglia d'Oro  , or Speightstown  , a lot of times it's hard finding 200 superior horses by those sires that are being offered for sale. The one thing we want to keep is the standard of conformation across the board (for) all horses in there—when people come look at them—they are not going to think that’s not a good-looking horse."

Noting that most auctions begin slowly, with buyers tentative in their bidding patterns at first, Taylor said he believes the introduction of the Fasig-Tipton Turf Showcase scheduled Sept. 10 geared toward yearlings with pedigrees and conformation pre-disposed to grass racing will benefit the Keeneland sale that begins the following day.

“We can get buyers in town and get it moving before (these) 200 go to auction and people will already be primed and already thinking about buying horses," Taylor said. "If you already have some horses sell, it’s always a good thing.”

This marks the second time in three years that the Book 1 format has been amended. It was decreased from four days to three beginning in 2015.

Last year, 346 yearlings changed hands for a total $120,225,000 during the three-day Book 1, with the average price of $347,471 representing a 14.6% increase over the $303,298 average for a larger catalog in 2015. The 2016 three-day median of $300,000 was up 20% over the 2015 figure of $250,000.

Overall, the 2,792 horses that changed hands for $272,890,500 during the 13-day auction last year represented a decrease of 3.1% from the $281,496,100 gross for 2,745 horses sold during the 12-day stand in 2015. The cumulative average of $97,740 was a decrease of 4.7% from $102,549 and the median fell 20% from $50,000 to $40,000.

Courtesy of the Bloodhorse

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