Upcoming Auctions: Ups, Downs in Numbers

Keeneland's September yearling sale is the largest auction of its kind in the world. But it will be a bit smaller this year.

"I don't know if we'll even lose a day, but there will be slightly fewer horses," said Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland's assistant director of sales.

In 2000, Keeneland established a September record by cataloguing 4,652 horses. The sale also was longer than ever before -- 13 days.

Russell said this year's decline was the result of Keeneland's decision to offer a yearling sale in October for the first time. Scheduled for Oct. 15-16, the sale is designed to help Keeneland control the size of its hugely popular September sale, which is scheduled to start Sept. 10.

The catalogue for Fasig-Tipton's Kentucky July yearling sale will be significantly smaller than it was in 2000. But the company's Saratoga select yearling auction will grow in size.

Fasig-Tipton will offer 427 horses during its Kentucky auction on July 18-19. The total is down 23.2% from last year's figure of 556.

The reduction was intentional, said Boyd Browning, Fasig-Tipton's executive vice president and chief operating officer.

"There was some criticism that we tried to expand the sale too much last year," Browning said. "I don't think we intentionally lowered the bar on quality in our inspections, but we may have ended up taking too many marginal horses."

The Saratoga sale, scheduled for Aug. 7-9, will offer approximately 235 horses, up from last year's total of 198.

Browning said the recent success of the Saratoga auction was the most important factor in the increase. Last year's average price was a sale record, and the median price equaled an auction mark established in 1999.

In addition, last year's high price at Saratoga ($4.2 million) exceeded the high price at Keeneland July ($3.6 million) for the first time since 1971.