Anne M. Eberhardt

Racehorse Market Grows at Keeneland

The Keeneland November breeding stock sale traditionally has been a market primarily for broodmares and weanlings, but a growing segment of the auction in recent years has been horses in training.

Bill Casner and Kenny Troutt’s WinStar Farm “was kind of the first one to jump in on it” and make selling horses in training a major venture, according to Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland’s director of sales. WinStar’s consignment of horses in training is offered on the second Tuesday of the November auction, and graduates of the group have included 2008 Donn Handicap winner Spring At Last, who sold for $675,000 in 2006, and 2007 True North Handicap (gr. II) winner Will He Shine, who brought $290,000 in 2005.

This year, Ahmed Zayat’s Zayat Stables is offering more than 70 horses of racing age through Eaton Sales and plans to make the marketing effort an annual event in the future. Among the horses in the 2008 group are 2007 Santa Ysabel Stakes (gr. III) winner Baroness Thatcher, who captured an allowance race at Keeneland Oct. 11; J Z Warrior, who scored in the Oct. 12 House Party Stakes at Belmont Park and has won two other added-money events; 2007 Demoiselle Stakes (gr. II) winner Mushka, who took a turf allowance race at Keeneland Oct. 3; and Premium Wine, winner of the 2007 Gallant Bob Handicap at Philadelphia Park.

“This is a unique business philosophy that he (Zayat) is going to bring proven and promising racing stock and offer it to the market annually,” Russell said. “WinStar kind of came up with the idea, and now he (Zayat) has taken it to another level. I think it is a very exciting thing not just for the industry, but for Keeneland itself. These are good quality horses, and they’re still at the top of their game. They can go on and perform on the world stage or anywhere in America.”

Selling horses in training, according to Russell, “is a niche in the November market that probably needs to be expanded. People can come and buy these horses and race them this winter down at Gulfstream or at Santa Anita or in New Orleans. With markets like Dubai for the racing carnival, I think these horses will have great appeal not just in America but also internationally.”

Other operations that sell horses in training at Keeneland include Juddmonte Farm and Shadwell, said Russell, who added, “It’s a niche being explored by several different people.”

Woodford Racing, a venture that involves Lane’s End Farm’s Bill Farish, is scheduled to sell 14 of the remaining 4-year-olds from its first partnership group during the Keeneland November sale.