Keeneland Barn Notes - September 11, 2017 - LEX18.com | Continuous News and StormTracker Weather

Keeneland Barn Notes - September 11, 2017

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The 74th Keeneland September Yearling Sale begins today at 3 p.m. ET with the premier Book 1. The sale will cover 12 sessions through Saturday, Sept. 23.

The world’s largest sale of Thoroughbred yearlings, the September Sale catalog represents the cream of the North American yearling crop and attracts the industry’s major buyers from across the U.S. and around the world. The sale always produces a wide range of figures that horsemen, the media and others will examine.

Here are a few numbers related to this year’s catalog:

4,138: Yearlings cataloged to the sale – 2,159 colts and 1,980 fillies.

1,799: Number of yearlings that are registered as bay, the most popular color. Of the other yearlings cataloged in the sale, 1,125 are dark bay or brown, 797 are chestnut, 328 are gray or roan, and one is black.

1,203: Yearlings cataloged in Week 1 of the sale, covering today’s Book 1 and Book 2 on Tuesday-Thursday.

310: Number of 2017 stakes in North America and internationally won by alumni of the September Sale.

206: Sires represented in entire sale.

167: Yearlings cataloged in Book 1, today’s opening session.

141: Consignors represented in entire sale.

46: Keeneland barns used to house the yearlings (barns are used more than once as the sale progresses.)

34: Number of 2017 Grade/Group 1 races won by alumni of the September Sale.

25: States, provinces and foreign countries where yearlings were foaled: Arkansas (3), British Columbia (1), California (14), Florida (148), France (1), Great Britain (2), Iowa (12), Illinois (1), Indiana (18), Ireland (1), Kentucky (3,559), Louisiana (13), Manitoba (1), Maryland (32), Michigan (2), Minnesota (2), North Carolina (2), New York (101), Ohio (26), Oklahoma (9), Ontario (103), Pennsylvania (45), Texas (1), Virginia (28), West Virginia (14).

12: Sessions of the sale.

5: Number of catalogs for the sale. (Book 1 and 2 horses appear together in the first catalog.)

The entire September Sale, which runs through Sept. 23, will be streamed live on Keeneland.com.


With subtle moves honed from their lifelong experience with horses, Keeneland’s ringmen quickly transform exuberant yearlings that enter the sales ring into docile creatures. Their strategy is to become friends with each yearling for the two minutes or so they are together on stage.

Ron Hill shows a horse during Keeneland’s world-famousSeptember Yearling Sale.Ron Hill is one of six men who gently parade Thoroughbreds at Keeneland during the bidding process. At the September Yearling Sale, he shares the duties with Cordell Anderson, Larry Anthony, Aaron Kennedy, Ernest Nichols and Eric Salmond on a rotating basis in which they work in pairs in one-hour shifts. As they alternate, one horse is greeted at the entrance as the just-sold youngster exits.

“It is exciting because you never know which one is going to be a (successful) one,” Hill said. “That is why our crew does just as a good a job on the first day as we do the last day. We do our best every time we handle a horse.”

When a Keeneland sales graduate makes the big time, videos and photos often circulate on the Internet and social media. Hill takes great pride when he sees images of him holding such future stars as multiple champion Beholder (sold at the 2011 September Sale) and champion and Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Nyquist (sold at the 2014 September Sale).

In the back walking rings, yearlings are led by people who work for the consignors who then hand them off to a ringman at the back door of the sales ring. Even the most well-trained yearling might get stage fright when entering the bright, noisy area. The ringmen’s task is to comfort the horse so it looks its best to prospective buyers.

Hill graciously shared some trade secrets.

“When the yearlings walk in there, they are looking for a friend,” he said. “I let them stand there for a moment and take it all in. I wait for the horse to take the first step. I don’t want to move him – I want him to move himself. Then we have a little rapport.

“Another thing that helps is our black leather gloves. They can smell the previous horses on the gloves. I give them my hand and then they start to follow me around. After that it is usually all good.”

Sometimes Hill will offer a few soothing words to the horse, but there is one technique he will not use.

“I never look a horse in the eye,” he said. “To a horse, that is a challenge. I was told that when I was a little kid.”

Hill traces his horsemanship to the pony he rode in 4-H while growing up in Urbana, Ohio. A friend introduced him to the Thoroughbred world, where he spent nearly four decades as an exercise rider throughout the country. Prior to pulling on the signature Keeneland green ringman jacket, Hill served as a showman for consignors.

When not at Keeneland, Hill does other horse-related work that includes accompanying horses on international flights. Except for a short-term factory gig as a teenager, Hill has spent his entire life with horses.

“After that, I knew what I wanted to do and I have been with horses ever since,” he said.

TVG1 will have periodic live hits on subsequent sale days.


On the first Saturday in May, seven-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Todd Pletcher recorded his second victory in the Kentucky Derby (G1) Presented by Yum! Brands with Keeneland September Yearling Sale Graduate Always Dreaming. Pletcher’s career includes a number of major wins with September Sale graduates, including two runnings of the Belmont (G1) with Rags to Riches (2007) and Palace Malice (2013). He has won Breeders’ Cup races with September Sale graduates Ashado, English Channel, Liam’s Map, Shanghai Bobby, Stopchargingmaria and Uncle Mo.

“It’s really important to our organization and the racing world in general,” Pletcher said about the September Sale while inspecting yearlings Monday morning with a team including his father, J.J. “We do most of our yearling buying here and look forward to the sale every year. This sale is the biggest pool of talent in American racing, so you’ll see a lot of big-time horses coming from here.”

Other 2017 September Sale alumni in Pletcher’s barn include Maker’s 46 Mile (G1) winner American Patriot, Suburban (G2) winner Keen Ice, Dania Beach (G3) winner Made You Look and Greenwood Cup (G3) winner Madefromlucky.



Of the roughly 4,000 horses cataloged to Keeneland’s September Yearling Sale each year, only one can win the Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (G1). In 2017, that was Always Dreaming, who sold at the 2015 September Sale to Steven W. Young, agent, for $350,000. Bred by Santa Rosa Partners, he was consigned by Dromoland Farm, agent.

Santa Rosa Partners is Irishmen Mike Ryan and Gerry Dilger, who owns Dromoland Farm. Santa Rosa also bred Always Dreaming’s Grade 1-winning half-sister, Hot Dixie Chick.

“He was a very nice baby,” Dilger said about Always Dreaming. “Good angles, a good way of moving, very classy.”

Click here to read more about Dilger’s September Sale success; watch Always Dreaming sell at the September Sale; and learn how the colt received his appropriate name.


Keeneland’s comprehensive September Sale microsite is an invaluable resource for horsemen, media and Thoroughbred racing fans. The digital Book 1 catalog features yearling conformation photos, walking videos and interactive Keeneland Pedigrees with full updates and race replays for winners found within the pedigrees for horses cataloged to today’s Book 1 session, which begins at 3 p.m. ET.

The expansive digital platform provides a unique range of tools and services to both sellers and buyers. These enhancements, particularly the yearling photos and videos, enable sellers to showcase Book 1, and their outstanding individuals, to a global audience. They also allow buyers from around the world to gather more information in advance of their travels to the September Sale. 

In addition to the digital Book 1 catalog, the site offers an interactive index that enables users to browse and filter all six September Sale catalogs. Also available are profiles of September Sale graduates that have won graded stakes in 2017, featuring footage of their sale at Keeneland as a yearling and race replays, and details about Keeneland’s new September Sale Bonus Program and Week 1 sale format and events.  

Keeneland.com/sales has a wealth of free and useful sales information for consignors, buyers and others, including a list of outs for the September Sale; searchable catalogs and results for Keeneland sales beginning with the 1999 July Selected Yearling Sale; and lists of stakes-winning Keeneland sales graduates that can be sorted by sale and are available by year back to 2010.


TVG2 will present full coverage of the first two days of the Keeneland September Yearling Sale today and tomorrow, highlighted by interviews with consignors, buyers and Keeneland sales officials, as well as features on the Keeneland sales experience.

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