Anne M. Eberhardt

Keeneland Raising Sale Commission to 5%

The commission for Thoroughbred auctions has been 4.5% since 2001.

Keeneland is returning its sale commission to the industry standard of 5%, 10 years after reducing it to 4.5%. The change will take effect with this year’s September yearling auction in Lexington.

“The market has stabilized, and this seemed like the time to do it,” said Keeneland’s vice president of sales, Walt Robertson, of the decision to increase the commission.

In addition, he said, Keeneland needs the money it will get from the increased commission rate to finance a world-class racing and purse program; to fund its global recruiting initiative, which resulted in buyers from 49 countries acquiring horses at its sales last year; and to support its effort to identify and cultivate people here and abroad who could potentially become new Thoroughbred owners. All three contribute to the help of the Thoroughbred marketplace, Robertson said.

The commission for horses bought back by their consignors will remain at 2.5%, which is below the industry norm. When a horse fails to meet its reserve, “that’s still a pretty tough pill for a seller to swallow,” Robertson said.

The Keeneland executive pointed out that even with the 5% commission back in place, it will be “cheaper or just as cheap” to sell a horse at Keeneland as it is anywhere else in North America. He said the entry fee will remain at $1,000, which covers the cost of the commission up to $20,000.

The 4.5% commission rate gave Keeneland clients approximately $30 million that they wouldn't have had otherwise over the years to reinvest in breeding and racing operations, according to Robertson.