Keeneland sales officials are trying to discourage sellers from scratching their horses from the Central Kentucky company's auctions.Under a new provision in Keeneland's consignor's contract, any horse withdrawn after it has arrived on the sale grounds must have a veterinary certificate stating the reason. Otherwise, the seller will be charged a fee in the "amount of 2 1/4% of the median sale price for the sale session in which the horse was listed to be sold or $1,000, whichever is greater."The change takes effect with the Keeneland September yearling sale."We had serious complaints from buyers who had seen horses on the sale grounds and then when they went back to them, all of a sudden, they (the horses) had been withdrawn," Keeneland director of sales Geoffrey Russell said.According to Keeneland's consignor's contract, the company's credibility "is diminished if catalogued horses are withdrawn without excuse."During the most recent Keeneland July select yearling sale in 2002, consignors scratched 27% (an all-time high for the auction) of the horses in the catalogue when the gross revenue, average price, and median price plunged 30% or more. The withdrawal rates for the Keeneland September yearling sale were 12.1% in 2002 and 11.1% last year.Previously, Keeneland's contract stated that a consignor scratching a horse after it had been assigned a hip number in the sale catalogue would be charged 4 1/2% of the horse's fair market value in addition to the entry fee if the animal didn't have a veterinary excuse. However, according to Russell, the company only enforced the rule when horses had been sold privately by their consignors.The new provision, he said, will be strictly enforced. The charge of 4 1/2% plus the entry fee remains in the consignor's contract, but will apply to only to horses that are withdrawn, without a veterinary excuse, following their assignment of a hip number, but before their arrival on the sale grounds.