For the third year in a row, Keeneland will not conduct its July select yearling auction. The decision was announced in Lexington on Jan. 15, the last day of the Keeneland January horses of all ages auction.
When Keeneland officials first canceled the July auction in 2003, they blamed the negative effects of mare reproductive loss syndrome (MRLS), which hit Central Kentucky in 2001. The 2004 cancellation followed a hugely successful 2003 Keeneland September yearling sale at which the gross reached its second-highest level ever and exceeded the combined total for the 2002 July and September auctions. In 2004, the September sale set a world record for a Thoroughbred auction by grossing $324,904,300. In addition, September records were established for the number of horses sold, average price, and median. A Storm Cat
-- Welcome Surprise colt set another September mark when he sold for $8 million.
Once the world's most glamorous Thoroughbred auction, the Keeneland July sale continued to produce high prices, but had struggled to attract horses in the years just before it was canceled for the first time. The deaths of major sires and the purchase of numerous well-bred mares by foreign buyers and people who breed primarily to race reduced the availability of yearlings with top pedigrees. In addition, many consignors started favoring the September sale because it gave yearlings more time to mature.
This year's Keeneland September yearling sale is scheduled for Sept. 12-24.