Trainer Todd Pletcher has mixed feelings about the new evening format for the April 2-year-old Keeneland sale.

Trainer Todd Pletcher has mixed feelings about the new evening format for the April 2-year-old Keeneland sale.

Anne M. Eberhardt

One Show Format Popular at Keeneland

Buyers and consignors at Keeneland Monday were mostly positive about the April Sale.

Prospective buyers and consignors at Keeneland Monday were mostly positive about the April sale of 2-year-olds in training and changes that have been made in the auction’s format. They liked the reduction in the number of under tack shows for the sale from two to one, but one trainer wished for more time to look at the horses before the auction’s Tuesday night start.

Other topics discussed included the large crowd attending the show and the fast times over Keeneland’s Polytrack surface. Read what the horsemen had to say:

Dean De Renzo, Hartley/De Renzo Thoroughbreds: “I love this sale, absolutely love this sale. It’s the greatest, and it’s always been great to us. All the best trainers from all over the country are here. Every year the horses get hand-picked better and better (by consignors).
“I think it (only one breeze show) is nice, and it’s kind to the horses.”

Todd Pletcher, trainer: “We’ve kind of come to expect the fast times on the synthetic surfaces at the 2-year-old sales. From what I’ve seen so far, it makes it a little tougher to separate them (the horses). The slower horses will go faster on a synthetic surface, and you have to factor that into the equation.”
“I don’t mind the one breeze (show) format. This is the first time they’ve done it this way, so you never know (how it will go) until they do it. But I would prefer a little more time to look at horses. In a sale like this, where there’s probably 140 horses left in it (after scratches), I would like a full day (without a night session of selling). I don’t think you need a tremendous amount of time to do it, but you do need some time. Probably the trickiest part will be the veterinary stuff. First you’ll look at the horses to see the ones you like, and then you’ll have to get the necessary vet work and stuff like that done.
“I don’t really care if the sale is one day or two days, but if I were putting the sale together, I would probably have had one session Wednesday night or something like that.”

Terry Finley, West Point Thoroughbreds: “I’ll be interested to see how the new format is. I don’t really have a good feel for it.
“We’ve already bought a lot of horses. We’ve already put a lot of inventory into our system, so I’m not here to buy 10 horses, but you always have to be at the ready if you see something you like.
“I like the one workout show. Obviously, you can’t please everybody, and if you have a horse that’s sick or has a bruised foot or something, it’s unfortunate. But overall, we’re doing more good for everybody involved by having one breeze show. I guess you could call me a pretty big fan of it.
"It seems like the vast majority of horses are moving over it (Keeneland’s Polytrack) at least well and some really well. You see fewer horses that really look like they’re not good movers. But that could be a result of people knowing they can’t really bring a horse here (and sell it well) unless it’s a good mover.
“As a buyer, you do your work that you always do, and you take your best shot. When they (the horses) are clumped together, the evaluation of them on the end of the shank is probably a bigger part of your overall evaluation.”

Doug Cauthen, president and chief executive officer of WinStar Farm: “I think for the horses that are here – and there are a fair number of outs – it’s a great venue. You’ve got a great surface. The track is nice and tight and safe, and with Polytrack, you don’t have to worry about a little rain; it’s no big deal.
“This is the biggest crowd that I’ve ever seen at a one of these breeze shows here that I can remember. It’s probably double the usual crowd. The one breeze show a nice idea because it makes everybody show up.
“Everybody factors it (the fast times) in. The times were fast at OBS (the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co.), and they were fast here last year. I would love to see this sale with 300 horses because I think it’s a great time of year for horses to naturally do this.”

Niall Brennan, consignor: “I think it (the track) is fast like it was last year. It’s also very consistent.
“Synthetics are faster than dirt, but consistent, and the horses get over them easier. It does bunch the horses closer together. When you look at them, they all kind of look like they’re going the same. It does make more work for the buyers, because, obviously, they have to look at more horses, which is a good thing -- it promotes the sale better. There are a lot of good horses out there that aren’t necessarily the fastest ones.”