New Consignors Try Their Luck in Book One

New consignors who have horses entered in book one this year at Keeneland's September yearling include Greg and Beth Burchell's Crossroad Sales and Ron Blake's Blake agency.

Considering the magnitude of the Keeneland September yearling sale, and the top-notch quality entered in the auction's first two days, it may seem intimidating for new consignors to strive for such elite status.

But this year's catalog shows several new kids on the block entered in book one, and their stories reveal the road to success didn't come easy.

Reflecting upon their many years in the industry, Greg and Beth Burchell view their working experiences at such farms as Taylor Made, Gainsborough, and Adena Springs as stepping stones to where they are today.

"It was a goal of my wife and I when we were at Taylor Made to have our own place, and the sale consignment wasn't necessarily a part of it at that time, but it's not a big stretch when you're in the business like we are to start a consignment," said Greg Burchell.

In March, the Burchells launched a boutique consignment company called Crossroads Sales near Nicholasville, Ky., along with Don Amos, retired chief operating officer of Magna Entertainment Corp.

The Burchells have 47 horses in the Keeneland September yearling sale, two of which are in book one.

"I've been in the business all my life," said Burchell. "My dad trained horses, and I got my trainer's license when I was 18 and did 14 years on the racetrack, but ended back up with the babies on the farm because I enjoy them."

While Burchell and his wife act as managing partners of the company, Amos serves as an additional partner and advisor.

The Burchells initially started their consignment to save the expense of paying other people to sell their horses, and they have garnered several clients through the connections they made working at various farms.

"Our intentions are to have a boutique-type sales consignment where we'll have a better personal relationship with all our clients and be able to give them the time they deserve," said Burchell.

"We'll be like everybody else and have some horses that don't do as well as we expect, but I think overall we'll have a good sale, and with that being said, I'm looking forward to it," said Burchell, whose book one consignment includes a colt by Giant's Causeway--Sweeping Story, by End Sweep.

Another consigner who isn't completely new to book one at Keeneland, but has worked his way up to sell top quality horses, is Ron Blake of Blake Agency.

The former manager of Windhaven Farm near Lexington now has his own 100-acre breeding and sales-prep operation near Versailles, Ky., just minutes from where he will send six horses through the ring at the Keeneland September sale.

"I don't always have everything that fits book one, but sometimes they do," said Blake. "I'm not the largest consignor in the world, but it might surprise you to know I'm going to end up selling probably 40 yearlings this year at (various) auctions. Even though I don't look big, I sell."

Blake, who started working at racetracks at 14, feels confident about his two book one prospects this year, especially a colt by Unbridled's Song--Tale of a Queen, by Tale of the Cat.

"I think I have two really nice individuals--I don't see any reason why they wouldn't sell well," he said. "Keeneland has always been good to me … if I have good horses, they put me early."

Other new consignors entered in book one this year include:

John and Kim Glenney's Gardens Glen Racing Stable: Performing triple duties as breeders, owners, and trainers, the Glenneys have operated their Gardens Glen Farm near Lexington for more than 10 years. However, this marks the first time they have horses entered in book one at Keeneland. "We've got a number of horses (in the sale this year), and we're doing it ourselves," said Kim Glenney. "We both work on breedings together (and) don't use bloodstock agents."

Richard Maynard of Maynard Farm: A stakes-winning breeder, Maynard has been involved in the horse business since 1970 and has just one horse, a colt by Distorted Humor--Stormy Bear, by Storm Cat entered in book one this year. A resident of Greenbrier, Ark., Maynard is president of Arko, a local machine shop and metal fabricating business.