Keeneland's Cormac Breathnach Joins TDN Writers' Room Podcast

Cormac Breathnach | Keeneland

It's a busy time at Keeneland. The September sale has just ended, the fall race meet is upon us and the November sale is right around the corner. With that in mind, the TDN Writers' Room podcast presented by Keeneland called upon Keeneland Director of Sales Operations Cormac Breathnach to fill us in on the latest from one of America's favorite racetracks. Breathnach was this week's Green Group Guest of the Week.

The foal crop keeps dropping every year, but that doesn't seem to affect the September sale. There were 4,215 horses entered in the sale this year, the second straight year that number had increased. Breathnach was asked how Keeneland has avoided a downturn in the number of horses entered in the sale.

“It's a great question, and I'm not sure there's an easy answer, but there's a lot of things that we look at in there,” Breathnach said. “We're very grateful for the support that we get. Twenty-four percent of the entire North American foal crop goes through the Keeneland  September sale, which is staggering. It's a tribute to the people who came long before Tony (Lacy) and I, people like Rogers Beasley and Geoffrey Russell and everybody else that made this sale what it is today. We're just trying to be stewards to advance that as far as we can. There are a lot of very clever, very experienced, very dedicated commercial breeders. And thankfully for us, they're looking to our September sale as a large outlet for their for their stock every year. That's a privilege for us, but also a huge responsibility that we do the best we can with what they're bringing us.”

The November sale will feature stars like GI Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint winner Caravel (Mizzen Mast), Grade I winner Dalika (GER) (Pastorious {GER}) and Puca (Big Brown). Puca is the dam of GI Kentucky Derby winner Mage (Good Magic) and will also be carrying a foal who is a full sibling to Mage. The sale will also give buyers their first chance to buy mares who are in foal to 2022 Horse of the Year Flightline (Tapit).

“We've had a lot of calls about Flightline already from all over the world about what mares are going to be in the catalog that he was bred to and how many and so on,” Breathnach said. “I think he's going to create the splash that everybody expects. People still remember that last year we sold a 2 1/2 percent share in him that went for $4.6 million. We're excited to continue that story.”

Keeneland opened Oct. 6 with its Fall Stars Weekend. Like everyone else, Breathnach is looking forward to what should be a great weekend of racing.

“It's going to be fantastic,” he said. “We have 11 stakes this weekend. Eight of them are Breeders' Cup 'Win and You're In' races. It's three unparalleled days of action here. One race that I think really jumps out to me is the Darley Alcibiades. I think that race is loaded. Look at the morning line, you've got fillies like Alys Beach at 20-1. It could be one of the best races of the year. The whole weekend, it's going to be action packed, turf and dirt sprints, races going long on the turf and dirt. I can't wait for it.”

Elsewhere on the podcast, which is also sponsored by the Retired Racehorse Project, the Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association, Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders, West Point Thoroughbreds, WinStar Farm, XBTV.com and 1/ST Racing, Lane's End, the team of Zoe Cadman, Bill Finley and Randy Moss discussed a story in the TDN in which John Sikura called for a massive purse increase for the GI Kentucky Derby and the GI Kentucky Oaks. While agreeing with Sikura, Finley pointed out that Churchill Downs has very little incentive to increase the pot. The team reviewed last weekend's big slate of races, which included a win by Cody's Wish (Curlin) in the GII Vosburgh S. Looking ahead, the trio agreed that the GI Coolmore Turf Mile at Keeneland could be the highlight of the weekend as it could be a showdown of the best turf horse in the U.S. in Up to the Mark (Not This Time) and the Charlie Appleby trained star Master of the Seas (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}).

To watch the Writers' Room, click here. To view the show as a podcast, click here.

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