2000's

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2000

On Feb. 29, Keeneland President and CEO William C. Greely officially retires.

On March 1, Nick Nicholson becomes the sixth President of Keeneland.

On April 20, the Daily Racing Form donates its entire archival library—containing more than 4,000 volumes and featuring newspapers from as far back as 1880—to the Keeneland Library.

Also in April, Keeneland finalizes the purchase of the Kentucky Horse Center from Churchill Downs. In October, the Horse Center is re-named The Thoroughbred Center.

Two July 1998 Keeneland sales graduates win two of the three jewels in the Triple Crown when Fusaichi Pegasus wins the Kentucky Derby and Commendable wins the Belmont Stakes.

Keeneland completes several construction projects, including the completion of a new outdoor walking ring, adjacent to the sales pavilion; an enclosure of the first floor of the clubhouse, and the completion of an on-site biofermentation plant.

WinStar Farm becomes the official sponsor of the WinStar Galaxy Stakes, formerly known as the First Lady Stakes. Following the fall race meeting, the race is upgraded to Grade II.

Keeneland sales set numerous records. In January, Mackie sells for $5 million, bringing a record price for a horse at that auction; the July Selected Yearling Sale averages a record $621,015; the September Yearling Sale grosses a record $291,827,100 and $88,085 per head; the November Sale catalogs a record 5,111 horses. 

 
2001 

Millennium Wind Captures the 2001 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes.

James E. "Ted" Bassett III, chairman of the board since March of 1986 announced his retirement in October. He remains a Keeneland trustee.

Two Keeneland stakes were upgraded for 2002--the Shadwell Keeneland Turf Mile, from Grade II to Grade I, and the Raven Run, from ungraded to Grade III. Keeneland now has five Grade I stakes races.

Keeneland's July Selected Yearling Sale averages a world-record $710,247 per horse.

During the inaugural October Yearling Sale, 338 horses brought $5,092,900, for an average of $15,068. Top price was $400,000 for a Pleasant Colony colt.

During the second session of the Keeneland September Yearling Sale (postponed for one day due to the terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C.), a Storm Cat colt was sold for $6.4 million, second-highest price in the history of the sale.

 
2002

Howard Battle, Keeneland’s longtime racing secretary, died on July 14. Battle stepped down as racing secretary earlier in the year and assumed the role of stakes coordinator. Ben Huffman was named as his replacement.

Keeneland’s new 10,000-square-foot library opened to the public on July 15.

Seabiscuit, a full-length feature movie produced by Universal Studios and based on the wildly successful book by Laura Hillenbrand, begins filming at Keeneland. Parts of Keeneland, including the infield, track, grandstand, clubhouse and lawn are retrofitted to look like Pimlico circa 1938. On Sunday, November 17, more than 4,000 unpaid extras brave the cold to be a part of the pivotal match race between Seabiscuit and War Admiral.

George “Bucky” Sallee, Keeneland’s longtime hornblower, marks his 10,000th call to the post on Wednesday, October 9.

 
2003

Citing the effects of Mare Reproductive Loss Syndrome, Keeneland officials placed the July Selected Yearling Sales on a one-year hiatus.

Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Cash Run, in foal to Storm Cat, tied a world-record price for a broodmare sold at public auction when Coolmore’s John Magnier paid $7.1 million for her at the November Breeding Stock Sale.

The Lane’s End Breeders’ Futurity, a 1 1/16-mile race for 2-year-olds, was elevated to Grade 1 and the Raven Run, a seven-furlong sprint for 3-year-old fillies, was upgraded to Grade 2.

The 17-day October race meeting established an on-track attendance record of 232,499.

Claiborne Farm became the first owner to win the gold bowl when Yell won the Raven Run Stakes (G2).

Keeneland’s longtime racing secretary Howard Battle received a posthumous Eclipse Award of Merit. The Keeneland Library received a Special Eclipse Award.

 
2004

Construction on the expansion and renovation of Keeneland’s sales pavilion began and was scheduled for completion in August 2005. The expansion included a 5,000-square-foot space for the relocation of the repository, more and larger conference rooms and a kitchen to service the dining areas. Enhancements included hi-speed wireless Internet access throughout the facility, a new business center, an upgraded sound system and a larger press box.

Installation of a Polytrack surface was completed in September on the five-eighths-mile training track. It is the first of its type at a public racing or training facility in North America. Evidence indicates that Polytrack is safer for horses and riders and requires less maintenance.

Sale records for highest-priced horses were set during the September Yearling and April Two-Year-Old sales. A Storm Cat colt sold for $8 million in September as the sale set records for number of horses sold (3,370), average ($96,411), median ($37,000) and gross ($324,904,300) on its way to becoming the biggest sale in history. During the April sale, a Pulpit colt sold for $3.3 million and records were set for gross revenues ($22,012,000), average price ($217,941) and median ($135,000). At the November Sale, a record average was established ($97,348) and the record for median was equaled ($32,000).

During the April meet, the record books were rewritten. Record total, daily average and single-day attendance figures were established, in addition to record all-source total and daily average and on-track total and daily average mutuel handles were set.
 

2005

Keeneland’s two signature sales posted impressive figures. The September Yearling Sale concluded as the largest-grossing Thoroughbred auction in the world, with record gains in gross ($384,349,900 for 3,545 horses), average ($108,420) and median ($40,000) prices. Additionally, the number of horses commanding $1 million or more, 40, set an industry record. At $9.7 million, a record for highest price was established when John Ferguson, on behalf of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, purchased a colt by Storm Cat out of Tranquility Lake. During the November Breeding Stock Sale, champion female and broodmare prospect Ashado attracted a world record bid of $9 million, the highest price ever paid for a broodmare or broodmare prospect. Records for average price ($102,842) and median price ($35,000) also were established.

The Vinery Madison and Jenny Wiley Stakes, run in the spring, were elevated to Grade 2 status by the American Graded Stakes Committee of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association.

In October, Keeneland's board of directors instructed management to continue the planning, design and engineering for the installation of Polytrack on its main track during the summer of 2006.

On September 2, longtime Keeneland trustee and board member Charles Nuckols, Jr. died. Later that month, William T. “Buddy” Bishop, a prominent Lexington attorney and longtime board member and secretary of Keeneland, was named a trustee.

Keeneland's spring meeting posted a record total attendance and the second highest on-track mutuel handle in history. Attendance for the 16-day meeting totaled 235,220, topping the previous record of 232,826 for 15 days of racing in 2004. Included in the total were two of the three largest crowds in track history–a record 33,621 on Toyota Blue Grass Day, Saturday, April 16, and 30,110 on Ashland Stakes Day, Saturday, April 9.

Keeneland introduced the ten-cent superfecta wager.

At the September Sale, Keeneland unveiled its newly renovated sales pavilion. The renovation, which began in November 2004 and was scheduled around Keeneland’s various racing and sales events, featured a 5,000 square-foot expansion for the relocation of the repository, more and larger conference rooms and a kitchen to service more dining areas. Other enhancements included hi-speed wireless access throughout the facility, a new business center and lounge/bar area, renovated press area, sales counter, and restrooms and an updated sound, message and bid board systems.

 
2006

Keeneland unveiled the completion of a five-month track renovation during the fall race meeting. Keeneland became only the third racetrack in North America, joining Turfway Park in Florence, Ky., and Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto, to install a Polytrack racing surface on its main track, which also was reconfigured to widen the turns and lengthen the stretch. Other significant renovations included the installation of a state-of-the-art LED tote board; enlargement of the trackside apron along the grandstand and clubhouse lawn to create additional space for patrons; a larger winner’s circle; and construction of a stone and wrought iron trackside rail along the grandstand and clubhouse aprons.

In the fall, Keeneland became the first racetrack in the United States to offer Trakus video race technology to its patrons. Trakus provides the ability – via sensor chips carried in saddlecloths and antennae positioned around the racetrack – to track each horse in a race electronically and digitally in real time. Information on individual horses is collected and displayed in various viewer-friendly animated forms.

The Equestrian Room, located on the first floor grandstand adjacent to the finish line, underwent an extensive renovation prior to the opening of the spring race meeting.

Keeneland’s fall meeting, the first to be conducted over the new Polytrack main track, proved popular with patrons and horsemen alike, producing record handle and attendance, and average field size of 10.02 starters per race. Fans wagered a fall meet record total of $140,408,982, surpassing the previous fall meet high of $126,036,538 in 2003. Keeneland also set a single-day fall meet handle record of $12,733,860 on opening Saturday, October 7. Total wagering during the fall meet averaged a record $8,259,352 per day, breaking the previous record of $7,413,914 established in the fall of 2003. Interstate commingled wagering rose 16.9 percent to a record $108,712,680, breaking last fall’s high of $93,029,846. Average daily interstate handle of $6,394,864 also topped 2005’s record level of $5,472,344. On-track attendance totaled a record 233,218, topping the record of 232,499 set in 2003. A single-day fall meet attendance record of 28,880 was set on Saturday, October 7, eclipsing the previous record of 28,788 set on October 14, 1989.

Julien Leparoux became the first apprentice jockey to win a leading rider title at Keeneland when he tied with Rafael Bejarano for top honors in the 2006 spring meet standings. Leparoux returned to win the title again in the fall, on his way to earning an Eclipse Award as the nation’s leading apprentice jockey.

Keeneland enjoyed a record-setting sales year in 2006. The September Yearling Sale – the highest-grossing Thoroughbred auction in the world – realized records for gross sales ($399,791,800), average ($112,427) and median ($108,420) and an industry record for number of horses sold (3,556). Thirty-two yearlings sold for $1 million or more, including a colt by Kingmambo which brought a final bid of $11.7 million, the second-highest price for a yearling sold at public auction, from John Ferguson, on behalf of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. The November Breeding Stock Sale grossed a near-record $313,843,800, and was highlighted by the sale record prices of $6.1 million for a horse in training and $2.4 million for a weanling filly, and a North American record price of $2.7 million for a weanling colt sold at public auction. Record gross sales of $72,329,100 were also established for the January Horses of All Ages Sale.

Keeneland’s spring race meeting posted all-time record wagering and attendance figures. Total wagering of $143,459,422 was an all-time meet record, besting the previous record of $142,450,673 set in 2004. Total wagering averaged a record $9,563,961 per day, again breaking the previous high of $9,496,712 established in the spring of 2004. Attendance for the 15-day meet totaled a record 244,145, including a single-day attendance record for a Friday of 23,882, set on Good Friday, April 14, which was also Maker’s Mark Mile Day at the track. The previous record attendance for a Friday was 21,737 on April 9, 2004, which also fell on Good Friday. Daily attendance during the meet averaged a record 16,276. Interstate commingled wagering on Keeneland rose to a record $110,401,486, while average daily interstate handle also reached record levels of $7,360,099.

  
 2007

The first spring race meeting conducted over Polytrack generates records for total wagering ($158,368,309), average daily wagering ($10,557,887), interstate commingled wagering ($125,952,284), and average daily interstate handle ($8,396,819).  A single day attendance record of 33,821 is set on Saturday, April 21.  Keeneland sets wagering records for all sources handle as well as Pick Six ($919,213), Pick Four ($395,619) and Pick Three ($182,395) pools on Toyota Blue Grass Day.  Total wagering on the ten-race Blue Grass card is a record $19,246,840.  Keeneland’s seventeen-day fall meet establishes attendance and wagering records.  FallStars Weekend is expanded to include nine stakes – four of which are Grade 1 events – worth $3.35 million.  FallStars Saturday, October 6, sets a single-day fall meet wagering record of $14,135,204.  Total on-track attendance of 239,296 betters the previous fall’s record and ranks as the second-largest attendance in track history.  A fall meet Friday record crowd of 20,024 is set on College Scholarship Day, October 12. 

Keeneland auctions generate total sales of more than $815 million in 2007, driven by record gross figures for the January Horses of All Ages Sale ($72,868,200), near-record levels for the September Yearling Sale ($385,018,600), and record November Breeding Stock Sale ($340,877,200).  Thirty-nine horses sell for $1 million or more at the November Sale, equaling the record total sold in November 2000.  Among them is Playful Act (IRE), a Group 1 stakes-winning mare by Sadler’s Wells, bringing a world-record 10.5 million from John Ferguson, on behalf of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.  The mare is part of the dispersal of the late Robert Sangster’s Swettenham Stud.  Patricia’s Gem, a Mineshaft filly that worked an eighth of a mile in: 9.3, a world-record equaling time for a juvenile auction work at that distance, brings a record bid of $1.75 million from B. Wayne Hughes at the April Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale.  It is the highest price ever paid for a filly at the April sale.
 

2008

Keeneland reports the second-highest attendance and wagering figures in spring meet history – 243,606 and $150.5 million, respectively – for its sixteen-day spring meeting.  Wagering records are set in the Toyota Blue Grass, with a twelve-horse field, the largest since 1983.  Records are established for the exacta pool ($1,138,124), trifecta pool ($1,051,060), superfecta ($549,415) and Pick 3 that included the Toyota Blue Grass ($212,378).  Total handle of $18,738,582 is the second-highest recorded on Toyota Blue Grass Day.

Keeneland realizes its fourth-highest grossing September Yearling Sale ever, with sales totaling nearly $328 million, despite the global economic crisis.  Eighteen yearlings sell for $1 million or more, including the sale-topping A.P. Indy filly out of Chimichurri that brings a final bid of $3.1 million from John Ferguson, on behalf of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

Keeneland records near-record attendance of 239,117 for its 2008 fall race meeting, the second-largest fall meet attendance in Keeneland history.  A fall meet Friday record crowd of 22,052 is set on College Scholarship Day, Friday, October 10.

During the fall meet Keeneland becomes the first racetrack in North America to provide live race coverage and limited simulcasts in high-definition format.

Alma Haggin, credited with creating Keeneland’s distinctive ambiance, dies in January at the age of ninety-five.  Mrs. Haggin was the daughter of Keeneland co-founder and inaugural president Hal Price Headley; wife of Louis Lee Haggin II, who succeeded his father-in-law as president and later served as chairman of the board; and mother of Keeneland director and trustee Louis Lee Haggin III.

William T. “Buddy” Bishop III, whose lifelong service to Keeneland included positions as director, secretary, trustee, and counsel, dies in April.

 

2009

The Horseplayers Association of North America (HANA) ranks Keeneland first among 65 of the continent’s top racetracks in its inaugural Track Rating System.

Beginning with the spring race meeting, Keeneland opens the restored Keene Place to the public.  Built in 1805 by the Keene family, the mansion sits on a portion of land that was once part of Keeneland Stud Farm.  One of the oldest homes in Central Kentucky, Keene Place has been a prominent Lexington fixture.  In 1825, the mansion welcomed the Marquis de Lafayette of France, for whom Fayette County is named and who served as an American General in the Revolutionary War alongside his close friend, General George Washington.  Keeneland purchased the home and its 15 surrounding acres in 2003, and undertook, in partnership with the Center for Historic Architecture and Preservation, an extensive restoration, with the goal to protect the mansion and its historical integrity.  Keene Place is now available to the public for meetings, receptions and special events.

On April 17, Keeneland becomes the second racetrack to be accredited by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA)’s Safety and Integrity Alliance.  The Alliance was formed with the goal of establishing national uniform standards in the areas of safety and integrity, and includes 55 racetracks in North America and every major national horsemen’s organization.  Alliance certification standards cover five broad areas:  injury reporting and prevention; creating a safer racing environment; aftercare and transition of retired racehorses; uniform medication, testing and penalties; and safety research.

A crowd of 33,680 – the second-largest in Keeneland history – turns out Saturday, April 18 for Coolmore Lexington Stakes Day.  Riders Up!, a karaoke competition at the Keeneland Entertainment Center, attracts a capacity crowd of 500 people and raises more than $50,000 for the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund.  Keeneland concludes its spring race meeting, held April 3-24, with total attendance of 240,755, the third-highest in track history, and an increase in average daily on-track wagering.

Keeneland simulcasts its racing product in high definition beginning with the fall meet.  Mr. and Mrs. William Shively’s Dixiana is named as the new sponsor for the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity.  Total wagering increases 8.7 percent during the 17-day meet, held October 9-31.

Four yearlings bring $1 million or more at the September Yearling Sale, led by Storm ‘N Indian, purchased for $2.05 million by John Ferguson for Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.  From the last full crop of leading sire Storm Cat, the colt is the first foal of champion mare Fleet Indian.  The November Breeding Stock Sale is boosted by the near-record dispersal of the W.T. Young family’s Overbrook Farm.  With Eaton Sales serving as agent, Overbrook sold for $6,644,000 in September, the dispersal ranks as the second-largest in Keeneland sales history, selling a total of 196 horses for $38,404,000 for an average of $195,939.  Only the Nelson Bunker Hunt dispersal, which sold 580 horses for $46,912,800 during the 1988 January Horses of All Ages Sale, ranks higher.

Pierre Bellocq, the internationally celebrated artist better known as “Peb,” joins Keeneland and Daily Racing Form to announce the donation of nearly a half-century of his humorous caricatures and equine cartoons to the Keeneland Library. 

Jim Williams, Keeneland’s longtime director of communications, retires following more than 38 years with the company. 

Central Bank becomes the signature sponsor of the 2010 Ashland Stakes.

Keeneland is the recipient of the 2009 Simulcast Award at the 17th annual International Simulcasting Conference in Saratoga Springs, New York.  Keeneland also won the award, which honors the horse racing industry’s best simulcast production in 2003 and 2008.

 

2010

Keeneland’s spring meeting ranks among the top 5 in track history, establishing record attendance marks for a spring meet opening day (24,734) and Toyota Blue Grass Day (33,727). Total attendance of 238,282 is the fourth-highest in Keeneland history. Garrett Gomez and Christophe Clement capture their first Keeneland jockey and trainer titles, respectively. Keeneland leads the country in social media outreach for handicapping and generating fan interest in racing.

Keeneland introduces a 50-cent Pick Three wager during its spring meeting.

For the second consecutive year, the Horseplayers Association of North America (HANA) ranks Keeneland first among North America’s top racetracks.

Energized by a new format which generated active trade from a broad mix of buyers, the September Yearling Sale successfully concludes with across-the-board increases. The auction opened with two select evening sessions designed to create excitement and momentum that would carry forward into the following days of the sale. And, in an effort to spread the quality consistently throughout the first week, Book 2 was reformatted into one comprehensive catalog, presenting yearlings alphabetically by dam rather than ranked by pedigree and conformation.

Momentum from the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, held in Lexington September 25 – October 10, carries into Keeneland’s fall race meeting where on-track attendance totals 229,909, an increase of nearly 20 percent from 2009.  Abu Dhabi’s Emirates Equestrian Foundation sponsors the $53,250 The President of United Arab Emirates Cup (G1), the first race for Arabians run at Keeneland. Held on FallStars Saturday, the race is won by Bill Waldron’s Grilla.

More than 1,000 fans brave freezing temperatures at Keeneland’s outdoor show ring to welcome Zenyatta to Kentucky. Accompanied by “Team Zenyatta,” including owners Jerry and Ann Moss, and trainer John Shirreffs, the champion race mare is paraded publicly for a final time before her retirement to Lane’s End Farm in Versailles, Kentucky. Fans traveled from as far away as California, New York, Michigan and Ohio to see Zenyatta, who is presented with a gift basket filled with her favorite treats, including mints, pears and Guinness beer, by Keeneland officials.

2011

Keeneland marks its 75th anniversary with a year-long celebration culminating on Saturday, October 15, the opening date of the track’s first live meet in 1936, with a musical salute from the world-renown Boston Pops. The evening event features the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra, under the direction of Keith Lockhart, with the University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra in a performance at Rupp Arena in downtown Lexington. Proceeds from the concert benefit the Lee T. Todd Jr. and Patricia B. Todd Music Outreach Endowment, created as part of a three-year commitment made by Maker’s Mark and Keeneland to raise money for music outreach in schools throughout Kentucky. 

Attendance for the fall meeting totals a record 250,163, while all-sources handle rises 9.3 percent to $131,761,560. Stoll Keenon Ogden PLLC, one of Kentucky’s largest and most established law firms, sponsors the historic Phoenix Stakes (G3).  A special six-furlong stakes for two-year-olds, the Keeneland 75th Anniversary Stakes, is held on October 15. 

Top-class race fillies and mares and two unique bloodstock dispersals – Edward P. Evans’ Spring Hill Farm and Prince Saud bin Khaled’s Palides Investments N.V., Inc. – combine to produce record prices and strong growth at the November Breeding Stock Sale. Gross receipts for the 11-day sale are up 41.4 percent as 2,554 lots sell for $208,511,200. Twenty-three horses bring $1 million or more compared to eight in 2010. The $8.5 million paid for eventual champion Royal Delta sets a Keeneland sales record for a horse in training, while a half-sister to Horse of the Year Saint Liam goes for $2.6 million to establish a North American record for a weanling filly sold at public auction. 

With Lane’s End serving as agent, the dispersal of Edward P. Evans’ Spring Hill Farm sells 170 lots for $55,820,000 at the November Sale to become the highest-grossing Thoroughbred dispersal sold at public auction in North America. When combined with the 50 yearlings sold by the Evans estate for $6,527,000 at the September Yearling Sale, the dispersal sells a total of 220 lots for $62,347,000.

A strong market, defined by quality individuals and reasonable reserves, produce double-digit increases in all categories at the September Yearling Sale. Gross sales increase 12.7 percent to $223,487,800 for the 13-day auction.  

Despite a record 13 inches of rainfall during April, the spring meeting ranks among the best in the track’s 75-year history. Thanks to Keeneland’s all-weather racing surface, racing remains formful with relatively few scratches. Total meet attendance of 241,684 is the third-highest for a spring meet ever. All-sources handle is up nine percent to $121,028,670. 

Keeneland introduces a 50-cent Pick Five wager during the spring meet. The Pick Five replaces the Pick Six wager. 

For the third consecutive year, Keeneland is named by the Horseplayers Association of North America (HANA) as the continent’s top racetrack.

Keeneland earns its fourth International Simulcast Award, which honors horse racing’s best simulcast production. Keeneland also won the award in 2003, 2008 and 2009.

 

Keeneland

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