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Behind the Scenes: Sales Counter Staff Works Hard to Accommodate Keeneland Clients

September 13, 2017

LEXINGTON, KY (Sept. 13, 2017) - As the central business location for buyers and sellers during the Keeneland September Yearling Sale, the sales counter is a hub of activity. Throughout the day, a steady stream of buyers, sellers and their representatives from across the U.S. and around the world enters and exits the office located a few strides from the bidding area in the Sales Pavilion. Clients pick up and drop off pertinent information and forms, register reserve prices and clarify questions with Director of Sales Operations Geoffrey Russell and his staff.

A dedicated support crew headed by Pat Lair serves Keeneland’s sales customers at a steady pace by answering questions and handling numerous administrative tasks. The group acts as a liaison for vital paperwork that circulates between Keeneland and buyers and sellers. For example, the sales counter is where buyers or their agents present proof-of-purchase forms in return for permission slips to transport yearlings out of Keeneland.

Tom Kutny, a member of Lair’s team since January 2011, never tires of assisting the variety of people at the counter.

“We take great pride in our work and it is always nice when people tell us how well they are treated by everyone at Keeneland,” he said. “We have a lot of people tell us, ‘Even though I am not spending big bucks, everybody treats me well at Keeneland.’ ”

During Keeneland’s race meets, Tom is a member of Guest Services. Fans will see him helping coordinate the flow of four-legged and two-legged traffic between the Saddling Paddock and Walking Ring before each race.

“As a racing fan, it is the perfect job for a retiree,” he said. “I get to work where I can see and meet the equine and human movers and shakers in the Thoroughbred industry.”

Tom and his late wife, Gwen, were longtime racing fans while living in Poughkeepsie, New York, halfway between Saratoga Springs and Manhattan. Their racing sojourns included a trip in 2002 to Keeneland, and they were overwhelmed by the region’s hospitality.

After 35 years at IBM, Tom retired to nearby Georgetown, Kentucky, so Gwen could fulfill her dream of having their own small property and a retired racehorse. Their off-track Thoroughbred Ibex arrived in 2007 and currently shares his pasture and barn with a non-Thoroughbred, a goat and a pair of black cats.

“Working seasonally at Keeneland is a perfect blend for me,” he said. “I get to enjoy all the action of the sales and the racing and still have time for the quieter farm life.”