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Keeneland's Globetrotting Sales Team Spans the World to Recruit Buyers

March 2, 2018

Lady Aurelia wins at Royal Ascot
Lady Aurelia won the King's Stand (G1) at Royal Ascot in 2017. The globetrotting filly won the Queen Mary (G2) at Royal Ascot in 2016.

The global success of Keeneland sales graduates on racing’s biggest stages is indisputable, from the Triple Crown to Royal Ascot to Dubai’s Racing Festival and the Breeders’ Cup World Championships.

While alumni of Keeneland sales achieved significant success in North America last year, many captured major races in Europe, the Middle East, Japan, Russia, Turkey and Central and South America. Keeneland sales graduates accounted for more than 500 stakes wins – nearly half of which were graded or group races – around the world in 2017.

Keeneland sales graduates accounted for more than 500 stakes wins – nearly half of which were graded or group races – around the world in 2017.

This record of success and the exceptionally deep buying bench make Keeneland the gold standard among Thoroughbred sales companies and the September Sale the world’s most important Thoroughbred auction. Keeneland employs a year-round global strategic initiative to engage buyers at every level of the market and to promote the Thoroughbred industry. Personal outreach is one aspect of this international market development effort.

Each year, Keeneland travels to more than 25 countries and invests more than $700,000 toward international racing programs and market development.

Additionally, Keeneland raises its presence internationally via sponsorship of major stakes races in England, Ireland, Korea, Australia and Central and South America. Keeneland recently announced its sponsorship of the 2018 Princess Margaret Stakes (G3), a prestigious juvenile event on the British summer racing calendar, as part of a new association with Ascot Racecourse.

Keeneland Korea Cup presentation
As an example of Keeneland's commitment to broaden the international marketplace, Keeneland sponsors the Korea Cup (G1) and Korea Sprint (G1).

“Our sales staff, in concert with representatives in Europe, Australasia, China and Japan, travels across the U.S. and around the world to recruit buyers and continually strengthen our buying bench,” Keeneland Vice President of Racing and Sales Bob Elliston said. “It’s a hallmark of what we do at Keeneland.”  

"Our sales staff, in concert with representatives in Europe, Australasia, China and Japan, travels across the U.S. and around the world to recruit buyers and continually strengthen our buying bench. It's a hallmark of what we do at Keeneland." - Bob Elliston

The September Sale annually offers the cream of the North American Thoroughbred foal crop and, owing to a healthy mix of domestic and foreign buyers in 2017, achieved heights not seen in nearly a decade. Bidding wars among the world’s top buyers drove gross receipts above $300 million for the first time since 2008, producing record average and median prices and the sale of 13 seven-figure horses.

Buyers from five continents were active at the September Sale, led by major North American owners, trainers and pinhookers and their counterparts from Europe, Central and South America, Australia and Asia. Foreign buyers made more than $80 million in purchases during the 12-day sale.

Foreign interest was heightened by the success of such September Sale graduates as Group 1 winners Lady Aurelia, Roly Poly, Hawkbill and Order of St George (IRE), who performed well in Europe last season, and by American-bred horses that brought good returns at European breeze-up sales.

Roly Poly wins the Prix Rothschild
Keeneland September graduate Roly Poly won the Falmouth S. (G1), Prix Rothschild (G1) and Sun Chariot S. (G1) in Europe in 2017.

In acknowledgement of the continuing success of its sales graduates, Keeneland last year created a lucrative rewards program for owners and sellers – the September Sale Bonus Program – that comprises two components: the Book 1 Bonus and Seller Bonus. The Book 1 Bonus targets Grade or Group 1 stakes winners that sold as yearlings in the premier Book 1 portion of the September Sale. The Seller Bonus extends opportunities for rewards to all eligible graded or group stakes winners sold at any time during the September Sale.

“Keeneland’s September Sale plays an unparalleled role in the global racing community as the primary source of champions and graded or group stakes winners year after year,” Elliston said. “This unique Bonus Program underscores Keeneland’s commitment to invest in the Thoroughbred industry, to recognize our loyal sellers and owners, and to advance excellence in racing worldwide.”