Keeneland is undergoing a “strategic realignment of its core racing and sales operations to strengthen its ability to execute its mission and better serve the needs of its global clientele,” it announced Thursday.
Shannon Arvin, who it was announced earlier this month will succeed Bill Thomason as the company's President and CEO at the end of 2020, will serve as Interim Head of Sales while a search is conducted this fall to fill that role. While a partner at the Lexington law firm Stoll Keenon Ogden (SKO), Arvin has served as corporate counsel to Keeneland since 2008 and as Secretary and Advisory Member of Keeneland's Board of Directors since 2015.
As part of the realignment, Bob Elliston–previously Vice President of Racing and Sales–will now focus his attention on Keeneland's racing product as Vice President of Racing.
“The demands of these two globally significant business lines require tremendous time and resources, especially as we navigate these unprecedented times and get ready for a fall season that includes two major sales, the Fall Meet and Breeders' Cup,” Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason said. “We understand the uncertainty and the extraordinary challenges our customers are experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We want them to know that we are all in this together, and we are committed to providing the best opportunities for them to succeed in the sales ring and on the race track. This realignment enables Keeneland to deliver on this promise when our industry needs it most.”
Keeneland will hold its September yearling sale from Sept. 13-25; its Fall Meet Oct. 2-24; will host the Breeders' Cup World Championships Nov. 6-7; and the November Breeding Stock sale beginning Nov. 9. It recently held a five-day, stakes-filled summer meet brought about by scheduling changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Keeneland sales are an important economic engine for Keeneland and vital to the global Thoroughbred industry,” Arvin said. “Over these next few months, I look forward to working alongside Bill, listening to our customers, learning from our sales team and evaluating opportunities to further enhance Keeneland's premier sales.”
Elliston added, “As we saw during the recent Summer Meet, racing at Keeneland is second to none, and I am excited to be able to focus my attention on preparing for the Fall Meet and Breeders' Cup. I am proud of the great strides we have made, particularly in the areas of safety and fan development, and I look forward to building on the foundation we have put in place.”