Keeneland Sales Update

Like most of you, we at Keeneland are very much looking forward to the return of racing here in Lexington one week from today. It has been a challenging few months for all, and the disruption to all of our calendars in 2020 was certainly unexpected. But with this return of live racing – while under unique conditions – comes a sense of normalcy as well. True to Keeneland’s mission, we will once again be able to conduct these races that are so important for Keeneland, and distribute purses to our horsemen.

We were thrilled to share late last week that Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear approved Keeneland’s request to allow a limited number of owners to attend our Summer Meet. Keeneland officials collaborated with the governor’s office and state public health officials to develop a plan that ensures the safety of horsemen and track employees under the Healthy at Work guidelines.

We imagine that many of you may be curious on how this will operate and we wanted to take this opportunity to share a bit of detail on this front.

Credentials and Ticketing

Keeneland’s Horsemen’s Hospitality team will contact owners to arrange credentials as the race fields are set. Four credentials will be assigned to owners of horses entered in undercard races for the day their horse is running. Six credentials will be granted for entries in stakes races. Owners will receive an assigned indoor and outdoor seat on the race day.

Horsemen Access

All guests are required to wear a face mask and maintain proper social distancing while on the grounds. Health screenings, including a series of questions and a temperature check, will be completed on each guest before entering the Keeneland grounds. Guests should enter the grounds through Gate 2 and enter the facility through the South Gate entrance near the Welcome Center. The Saddling Paddock will only be accessible to trainers, grooms and jockeys.


Keeneland will offer limited food and beverage service during these five days. Wagering will be available only through live tellers on the grounds, or online with Keeneland Select.

We encourage you to visit the following web page for full details on these protocols and review frequently asked questions | Horsemen Details for the Summer Meet

We ask you to read on for a few additional updates for this week. Please also note that Keeneland’s offices will be closed this upcoming Friday, July 3, in observance of Independence Day.


Keeneland Sales Update

True to Keeneland’s mission to serve as a leader in our sport, Keeneland continues to invest in our core business of racing and sales. To this end, I’m pleased to provide an update on several significant announcements relating to both.

First, I’d like to extend a thank you to the many buyers, sellers and consignors for your support and participation in yesterday’s Select Horses of Racing Age Sale conducted in Keeneland’s new Digital Sales Ring. We were pleased with the results and proud to deliver this new technology to our customers. The success of yesterday’s sale was an important step for our industry, and you can trust Keeneland to continue to deliver innovative offerings and new opportunities to benefit our customers.

Earlier this morning we made the exciting announcement that Dr. Stuart Brown has joined the Keeneland team as our Equine Safety Director. Dr. Brown is like family to so many of us in the Thoroughbred community and his extensive credentials and expertise have earned him the utmost respect around the world. Dr. Brown will lead Keeneland’s efforts to develop, communicate and enforce safety and integrity policies for both our sales and racing operations. The safety of our equine and human athletes has and always will be mission critical to Keeneland and the future of our sport. We have no doubt Dr. Brown’s experience, passion and expertise will bring about positive change and we are thrilled to welcome him to the Keeneland family.

Finally, while our Summer Meet will look and feel much different from a typical Keeneland meet, we are delighted to be in the two week count-down. As we have shared with you, our team continues to work closely with Governor Andy Beshear’s office to ensure that we are following proper protocols and keeping our team and participants safe. As part of these discussions, Keeneland has requested approval from the governor’s office to allow owners to be in attendance for the July race meeting. We are very hopeful that we will receive their support on this latest request to welcome a limited number of horsemen to our grounds for their races. We will certainly announce updates and any additional information on this topic as soon as available.

We are slowly making a safe return and are re-energized as we head into summer racing.

Be well,

Bill Thomason

Bill Thomason

Keeneland June Online Select Horses of Racing Age Sale In Review

Keeneland Digital Sales Ring
June Online Select Horses of Racing Age Sale. June 23.

Trapezium, a half-sister to multiple graded stakes winner Honorable Duty, sold for $327,000 to St. Elias Stables to top Keeneland’s inaugural June Select Horses of Racing Age Sale, the first stand-alone online auction held today via the new Keeneland Digital Sales Ring platform.



Head Sold Total Average Median
12 $829,500 $69,125 $32,750


Hip Sex Horse Sire Dam Consignor Buyer Price
26 F Trapezium Hard Spun Mesmeric Juddmonte Farms, inc. St. Elias Stables $327,000
35 F Eloquent Speaker Flatter Spoken Not Broken Niall Brennan Stables, Agent Anthony Mitola $200,000
14 C Oak Room Into Mischief Privet Hedge Juddmonte Farms, inc. Steven W. Young, Agent $65,000
28 F Valletta Into Mischief West Riding Juddmonte Farms, inc. Big Dom Racing Stable $65,000

Keeneland’s September Yearling Sale Moves Ahead

Keeneland’s 2020 September Yearling Sale is scheduled to begin on Sunday, September 13. With over 6,000 yearlings currently entered, the 2020 sale will run through September 28. The deadline for withdrawal was June 12.
The format of Books 1 and 2 will remain the same as last year, with approximately 1,330 yearlings on offer during the first week. The dark day will be Wednesday, September 16. An additional 3,000 yearlings – 375 per session – will be offered through eight days of selling during week two; Books 3 through 6 will take place from September 19 through September 26.
The sale will conclude with Book 7, which will be held on September 27 and September 28, offering a total of 500 yearlings.


To Our Customers:

We hope this update finds you well. We would like to use this week’s newsletter to provide you with an update on the September Yearling Sale cataloguing process. We are pleased to report that we have received a record number of entries this year – more than 6,000. While we understand there will be additional withdrawals before our next deadline of Friday, June 12, we are optimistic of the confidence in our marketplace and are prepared to accommodate the demand.

Over the past several weeks we have been talking to buyers and sellers about the format of the September Yearling Sale. These thoughtful discussions have informed our decision to push the start forward one day, beginning on Sunday, Sept. 13. The format of Books 1 and 2 will remain the same as last year, providing consistency and continued confidence to customers. We plan to offer approximately 1,330 yearlings in the first week, with the dark day falling on Wednesday, Sept. 16.

We will catalogue 3,000 yearlings in Week 2. Books 3 through 6 will take place from Saturday, Sept. 19 through Saturday, Sept. 26, estimated at 375 yearlings during each of these eight days. Book 7 will be conducted Sunday, Sept. 27 and Monday, Sept. 28 offering a total of 500 yearlings. The final number of yearlings catalogued to the September Sale will be 4,830.

As we finalize the number of entries in the coming weeks, we will provide further updates on this front. In the meantime, please find a few additional updates relating to Keeneland racing and sales.


Bob Elliston


We continue to see an increasing number of registered buyers for the June Online Select Horses of Racing Age Sale to be conducted on June 23. Entries are being accepted through this Friday, June 12 at noon. The entry fee is $500. Keeneland’s commission on all sales will be the standard 5%, however there will be no RNA fees.

To enter a horse for this sale, you should complete the following steps:

  • Enter online through the standard entry process for Keeneland sales, which you can access at
  • Once your entry is accepted, you will receive login credentials as a seller to the Keeneland Digital Sales Ring.
  • At this point, you will be able to log in and upload photos, videos and more, and set your reserve.
Should you have any questions on this tool, please don’t hesitate to reach out to a member of the sales team.


The condition book for the Summer Meet at Keeneland, which will be held July 8-12, was released last week. Keeneland will offer average daily purses of $948,000, including Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Funds, for a total of $4,742,000.

You can view the condition book online at or by clicking here.

Keeneland Launches Digital Sales Ring; Announces Online Select Horses of Racing Age Sale on June 23

June Online

Keeneland officials today announced the launch of the Keeneland Digital Sales Ring, a stand-alone online auction platform accessible to buyers and sellers around the world at Kicking off the new digital platform will be a Select Horses of Racing Age Sale scheduled for June 23.

“The Keeneland Digital Sales Ring marks a significant milestone in our rich sales history and expands the realm of high-quality sales options Keeneland can deliver,” Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason said. “This tool does not replace Keeneland’s traditional live sales format but rather provides us the flexibility to host small, select auctions throughout the year.”

Keeneland developed the Digital Sales Ring platform together with Kentucky-based technology company Horseco. It is similar to the successful Magic Millions Online technology used by the Thoroughbred sales company in Australia.

“We’ve been working to make the Keeneland Digital Sales Ring a reality for a while but expedited the offering in light of the current COVID-19 crisis as a service to our clients who have experienced a disrupted sales year,” Keeneland Vice President of Racing and Sales Bob Elliston said. “We received positive and constructive feedback after presenting the platform to a focus group of buyers and consignors in early May. Their input informed the final product that we are making available to the public.”

The Select Horses of Racing Age Sale on June 23 will be the first sale conducted on the Keeneland Digital Sales Ring, with the prospect of additional sales to be held throughout the summer.


Select Horses of Racing Age Sale – June 23

Entries: Keeneland will accept entries for the sale from June 1-12. Entries may be submitted via the traditional entry process by clicking here.

Fees: Entry fee of $500 per horse. As with live auctions, Keeneland’s five percent commission rate will apply to sales, however no commission will be charged on RNAs.

Buyer Registration: Buyers must register for an account online in advance of the sale by clicking here.

Sale Catalog: Catalogs will be available online approximately one week prior to the sale date and continually updated as entries are submitted.

Promotional Assets: Sellers have the opportunity to upload photos, video and other promotional assets to the Digital Sales Ring to market each individual hip to prospective buyers. They will receive access to do so after entry has been accepted.

Sale Format: The format of this auction is similar to online auction platforms in other industries. Reserves may be set and incremental bidding occurs until the auction closes. Auctions will be conducted under a Conditions of Sale.

KHRC Race Dates Committee Approves Keeneland Summer Meet

Racing at Keeneland


The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission Race Dates Committee today approved Keeneland’s request to conduct a spectator-free, five-day Summer Meet, to be held Wednesday, July 8 through Sunday, July 12.

“Keeneland appreciates the quick response of the Commission to our request, and we applaud all their work on behalf of Kentucky racing during these unprecedented times,” Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason said. “We also thank Ellis Park for their cooperation in this process and for making these non-traditional dates available to Keeneland. We look forward to sharing more details about the Summer Meet in the coming weeks.”

“We are all in this together, and Ellis Park is pleased to work with Keeneland on a plan that benefits our horsemen and Kentucky racing,” Ellis Park General Manager Jeffrey Inman said.

Keeneland plans to host 9-10 races each day of the Summer Meet, and feature 10 graded stakes traditionally run during the track’s Spring Meet, anchored by the $600,000 Toyota Blue Grass (G2) and $400,000 Central Bank Ashland (G1), preps for the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Kentucky Oaks (G1), respectively.


We hope you had an enjoyable Memorial Day weekend and that you and your family are well. As the unofficial start to summer, we look forward to the season as Keeneland is optimistic to host a five-day summer meet in July.

As we announced late last week, our request to race July 8-12 has been submitted to the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission’s Race Dates Committee for final approval. The Summer Meet would offer 10 stakes originally planned for the Spring and highlight what we believe will be a non-traditional but stellar five-day racing season.

While the meet will operate without spectators and with limited horsemen in attendance, we look forward to the return of racing in Lexington and, most importantly, the opportunity to award purses to our participants and conduct these stakes which are so important to the breeding industry.

Please read on for a few additional updates as we continue to prepare for the September Yearling Sale



Thanks to all who submitted entries to the 2020 September Yearling Sale. We appreciate your patience and diligence in coordinating with us to enter horses during this unique time when many are working remotely. Mindy, Sidney and Mara are processing entries and they have started the inspection scheduling process.

While we have shared this with you in previous communications, a reminder that you have until June 12 to withdraw without paying entry fees. Invoices will be issued on June 1 for yearlings who are still entered as of this date. Should you wish to withdraw between June 1-12 after invoices are issued, our sales accounting team will reconcile your accounts for those withdrawn horses.

Our entire sales team is focusing on preparedness as we look ahead to the fall, and we are thoughtfully planning for every scenario. Yet we remain optimistic that we will have attendees at the September Sale to participate in a live auction, and we are taking tremendous steps to ensure a safe environment for everyone. As always, we stand ready to answer any questions, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team.

In addition, we wanted to share further news on the sales front:


Keeneland conducted a focus group with a cross section of buyers, sellers and consignors last week regarding our online auction platform that has been in development for some time now. This technology would allow Keeneland to host online sales and bring horses to market year-round.

Additionally, we continue to expand remote bidding options – both via phone and online – which will be integrated into our live sales. Look for more details on this technology in the coming weeks.

Furthermore, our sales team is working closely with our IT specialists to identify functions within the auction process where Keeneland could introduce contactless options – from the Repository to ticket signing and beyond – that would allow us to conduct typical business practices within a safe and healthy environment.


Keeneland will begin yearling inspections for the September Sale on Monday, May 18, in Kentucky. We have worked closely with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture to ensure our yearling inspection process will meet all safety protocols. Please click here to view the protocols and best practices that Keeneland and farms are to follow this summer.