Keeneland Shelves Internet RNA Auction

Keeneland's experiment into selling horse on the Internet is over, for now. The Lexington sales company said it will not conduct an online sale for horses that fail to meet their reserves in the upcoming September yearling sale.

"It was a market we felt we should test and we did," said Jim Williams, Keeneland's director of communications. "We didn't have the response we had hoped for, and we didn't get the volume. It doesn't mean we won't test it again in the future."

Until that time comes, Keeneland is referring anyone interested in selling horses online to Equine Spectrum. The Internet auction company was founded in 2000 by Coolmore's Ashford Stud, Eaton Sales, Taylor Made Farm, Lane's End Farm, and Three Chimneys Farm. Keeneland purchased an interest in the business last year.

The decision to shelve the online sale also was influenced by Stephen Koch, who helped develop and run the Internet auction site, deciding to return to college, according to Williams.

"That definitely had some bearing on it," Williams said. "He was very much involved with the project at the outset."

Keeneland first tried the Internet RNA (reserve not attained) sale during the 2000 September sale. Out of 230 horses offered, 13 sold for $500,200. The numbers of horses sold weren't great, but the concept was new and generated a fair amount of buzz among buyers. Subsequent online auctions held in November/December and in January 2001 declined in both numbers sold and average price. The last Internet RNA sale held last September only sold five horses out of 108 offered for a total of $27,800, an average $5,560.