Yearling Sale, As Viewed From Comfort of Your Couch

For more than three hours Monday night, the Keeneland July yearling sale was beamed into the homes of people who can access the TV Games Network either on cable television or by satellite dish. It was somewhat of a breakthrough for the auction end of the business, which generally gets little exposure away from sale pavilions.

TVG's Caton Bredar was on site at Keeneland, while Todd Schrupp and Frank Lyons hosted from the studio in Los Angeles. The coverage, also scheduled for Tuesday night, was a follow-up to "The Sales," a TVG production that previewed the Keeneland July sale.

Monday's show pre-empted racing coverage. Wagering was available through TVG platforms, but anyone who wanted to view live action from Mountaineer Park or Maywood Park was out of luck.

Instead, TVG tracked the sale hip-by-hip and featured interviews with buyers, consignors, and sale officials. Among those interviewed by Bredar were Prince Ahmed Salman, owner of top 3-year-old Point Given; Irish veterinarian Demi O'Byrne, the leading buyer at the opening session; owner Aaron Jones, who sold a Saint Ballado colt for $4 million; and Nick Nicholson, the president of Keeneland.

Some soundbites from the program:

"If I wasn't a Muslim, I'd probably worship Point Given," Salman, who was active at the sale Monday night, said in response to questions by Bredar about his racehorses and involvement in the business.

"I think the consignors have made a big mistake," said O'Byrne, who purchased the sale-topper, a Saint Ballado colt, for $4 million. (Last year, consignors, namely Lane's End Farm, announced plans to shift their emphasis to the September yearling sale at Keeneland.)

"Oh my God -- that's an awfully big price. He may take a little sting out of the one I bought at Saratoga for $3 million." That was Jones, who sold the $4-million sale-topper Monday night.

"This is a great sale," Nicholson said soon after the last horse sold. "People have been afraid of this sale, (but) there's nothing wrong with this sale. ... I think what it says about the industry is we're going in the right direction."

Though gross revenue and average were both down 12.3%, and the buy-back rate increased to 36.2%, Keeneland officials said the numbers were about what they expected.