Keeneland Postpones Tuesday Sale Session; Security Heightened

Keeneland Postpones Tuesday Sale Session; Security Heightened
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt
An empty auctioneer's seat and the results board at Keeneland, seen Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001 following the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C.
By Deirdre Biles and
Ron Mitchell

Due to the plane attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, and reports of possible terrorist acts in Washington, D.C., the Keeneland Association postponed the Tuesday session of its September yearling sale and rescheduled it for Wednesday. Keeneland said each session of the sale from Wednesday on will be held a day late. The sale is now scheduled to end Sept. 23 instead of Sept. 22.

"Due to the events of the day, Keeneland believes the most appropriate action is to cancel today's session of the sale," Keeneland president Nick Nicholson said. "We apologize if anyone is inconvenienced by the decision, and in the meantime, we will be doing what each of you is doing: praying for the victims and their families."

Nicholson said Keeneland would assist anyone at the sale who has been inconvenienced by the delay. "It's more about humanity than it is about business," he said. "It's not appropriate to have a horse sale when so many people are suffering."

In keeping with the rest of the nation, Lexington's Blue Grass Airport was shut down. Kentucky Gov. Paul Patton issued a Level Two security alert in the state, according to radio reports.

Keeneland spokesman Jim Williams said he could only recall Keeneland sales being delayed due to weather, and that none had ever been canceled. He said a Keeneland January sale was held up when the Gulf War broke out.

Many representatives of the Maktoum family, the ruling family of the Persian Gulf nation of Dubai, were on the Keeneland grounds Tuesday morning. They included Godolphin racing manager Simon Crisford, trainers David Loder and Eoin Harty, and agent John Ferguson. However, Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum, the United Arab Emirates Defense minister and Crown Prince of Dubai, was not visible. Neither was his brother Sheikh Hamdan al Maktoum.

"I haven't seen him this morning," said Crisford. "I'm here but I don't know where he is. I don't know (what he's doing)."

Prince Ahmed Salman of Saudi Arabia was reported to have been looking at yearlings earlier in the morning. But by lunchtime, he was no longer at Keeneland, according to an associate.

Williams said Keeneland had heightened its security. Rumors swept through the barn area that Keeneland was being evacuated because of security concerns, but they proved not to be true. Consignors continued to show horses to buyers, although the number of buyers was down considerably from earlier in the day.

In the barns and throughout the sale pavilion, the normal auction activity took a backseat to the events in New York and Washington, D.C., as consignors, buyers, sale personnel, and Keeneland staff watched developments on television monitors throughout the facility.

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