Two weeks ago, the TDN reported the news that Keeneland would offer a two-day Book One with Day One RNAs offered at the end of Day Two. Tuesday, Keeneland revealed the entire schedule for the sale, including a shift of the dark day from after Book 1 to after Book 2. We checked in with a mix of industry participants to see what their reaction to the schedule changes were.
Meg Levy, Bluewater Sales
I am very proud of the CBA, and the president, Allaire Ryan, who was instrumental in gathering consensus among consignors and telling Keeneland about it. I think Tony Lacy has been great. He has been very “boots on the ground,” and able to listen. This is something we have been wanting to happen for many years. It's great that the whole place wants to listen and wants to hear your opinion. I've been personally frustrated over how they kept changing the format over the past few years. From a momentum standpoint, this used to be the way that it was done many years ago. The most important thing, I told Allaire, was that the momentum for the buyers be preserved and the way they're doing their business is preserved. The motto of the CBA is “your seat at the table,” and it really feels that way. So, I'm proud of Allaire for doing this. It's so nice to have fresh air in the CBA and fresh air at Keeneland.
Sean Tugel, Director of Stallion Recruitment, Gainesway Farm & Board Member, Consignors and Breeders Association
I think it shows that Keeneland is being more flexible with the industry as a whole. I think it shows the commitment that Keeneland now has in working with the people who fuel the sales. As a member of the CBA board, I know that the CBA is working closely with them and they are listening to what the CBA is telling them as far as what consignors and breeders are wanting to see. So they have their ears open.
Liz Crow, BSW-Crow and Elite Sales
I think it's great. I think Keeneland would have preferred a three-day Book 1, but that's a hard balancing act, getting the right amount of horses between Book 1 and 2. We'll see how it goes. I think they're doing the best they can. I love the dark day being moved between Book 2 and 3, because it goes from around 200 a day to 400 a day really quickly. You get really backed up because it's ship in, show, sell from Book 2 on. As an agent or owner, you only have one day to look at a horse before you have to decide if you're going to buy them the following day. So moving the dark day is a really good idea. A new set of buyers come in after Book 2, so having that dark day makes sense. It's like a shift of one sale to the next. It's a totally different vibe from Books 1 and 2 and Books 3 to 6. It feels really good from my perspective to feel like we're all in this together to make this sale as good as it can be from a buying and selling standpoint. So that they're willing to listen and pivot is really important. I think they want to get to the point where we get a totally set format, but we're not there yet, and I think it's great that they're tinkering. Ideas like the RNAs from Day 1 at the end of Day 2 were tossed around at the CBA meetings, and they took that idea and ran with it. So props to Keeneland for listening and trying. It's so nice to see collaboration between consignors, buyers and the sales company.
Chad Schumer, Schumer Bloodstock
While always happy to see forward thinking and innovation, I'm somewhat unsure about the RNA resale move. I wonder if it would be better to offer these horses late afternoon on the dark day, after buyers have finished looking at Book 3 horses for the day.
Lesley Campion, Paramount Sales
We are very pleased with the new schedule for the Keeneland September Sale. Having the dark day after Book 2 makes complete sense and we welcome it. We would love to see consistency going forward and will do all within our means to make this format work for everyone. We recognize that Keeneland has an arduous task each year with placement, but consistency will help sellers better place and target their horses for their optimal book. We look forward to a strong market this year and can't wait to get started.
Conrad Bandoroff, Denali Stud
As far as the format goes, I have to tip my hat and give Keeneland credit. When they announced they were consolidating a three-day Book 1 into a two-day Book 1, there was a lot of feedback from sellers and buyers about having a dark day after only selling two days. I think buyers were pretty vocal about putting more horses in front of them before taking a break and letting them crack on with it. It affects us because we sell in the first session of Book 2. It affects people in Book 1 and the first part of Book 2. You still have a very important group of horses and you don't have that much time to be with those horses in the barn. We're fortunate that we can divide and conquer, whether it's my dad with one group and me with the other, and I think at the end of the day, even though it puts a little strain on you, it's the right thing to do and it's going to establish some momentum for the sale and keep it going. They listened to the feedback from their customers, both their sellers and their buyers, they took our opinion on board and they made a change after they heard that feedback. We all have the same goal–to put on the best show when you're selling and if we feel this is a change that will establish momentum and help commerce, we're all trying. The fact that they were willing to make that change is a positive sign.
Allaire Ryan, Lane's End
I'm pleased with the schedule for this year's September sale. I know I am not alone when I say I appreciate being able to put our best horses in front of buyers for four consecutive days before a break takes place in the sale. This momentum is vital to everyone involved in the sale process including sellers, purchasers and the auction company. The delayed start times of these four sessions are equally as valuable in my mind. This allows consignors, like us, who sell in back-to-back sessions to effectively manage multiple barn setups and it ensures that potential buyers have time to inspect and vet a range of horses on the sales grounds. I hope that it also translates to longer stays for those buyers, be they domestic or international, who intend to travel to the sale.
I am in favor of the new format because it allows people to see more horses over the four days. There are many good horsemen out there who don't need to be shown what Keeneland thinks are the best horses, because as we all know, good horses come from anywhere and everywhere. It is my belief that the more horses we put in the front of the book the better. Therefore, I am a big believer in thinking about a week one and a week two, like in England. The trainers/owners can go home and race their horses on the weekend or attend to their various affairs. Training horses is seven days a week and it's hard to get away for an extended period of time. This move is definitely a step in the right direction.