Keeneland yearlings for non-racing purposes

Well they say the walk is the most difficult gait to develop so maybe they are on to something!

Thanks for sharing

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Yeah, the OTTB market is kind of nuts at the moment.

I think the tough thing about buying at the thoroughbred sales (or any auction) when you have a strict budget for one horse is knowing when to pull the trigger.

I know when I’m shopping (I’m always shopping for mares, not yearlings), I usually single out a dozen or more who I think I will be able to afford to go look at in the barns. Of those first horses, I will inevitably strike a number of them off my list for whatever reason. While I’m back there, I hang out and watch others and possibly add them to my list (or wish list if they seem like they will go way higher).

When it’s time for bidding to start, I usually have my list of horses, but inevitably your favorite will be one of the last sold.

Then the bidding starts and you have zero control. It’s hard to know when to bid and when to sit on your hands. Horses you thought you would be able to afford will go way over your sport horse budget. Horses who weren’t even on your radar will sell in your budget and you’ll be wondering if you should throw your hand up. Do you risk it and wait for the horse(s) you like the most, knowing there’s a possibility they could be unexpectedly bid up above your gross annual income, or do you bid on the first horse you can afford in case there isn’t another? If you do the latter, will you have buyers remorse when your favorite horse garners no bid?

It seems so easy when you look at the sales results in retrospect. “Wow, 20 yearlings sold for only $1000!” But it’s that lack of crystal ball that makes it tricky. If it’s something you are serious about, you need to approach it with a lot of flexibility.


No doubt. Horses still at the track seem reasonable enough. But let someone put a few rides on and it’s out of sight. I digress though.

Thank you for writing out all of those deets regarding your experience with the auction process and the uncertainty of the selling order and bidding decisions. Very informative.

Since I’m a crazy person, my gut reaction to your post was “better plan to buy two”! While this may sound like crazy talk it is not nearly as silly as my idea to buy two broodmares already checked in foal :joy:

All the auction uncertainties included, it still seems like a good deal for a reasonably athletic young horse.

How would you describe the “average” farrier work and hoof balance found in yearlings presented at auction? Are they already being shod? Are they already trimming similarly to what is typical for horses at the track? Soley based on what I see as surfing, looks like it’s still pretty common for horses in racing plates to have a lot of toe.

Foals, weanlings, and yearlings are trimmed totally different on the farm than they are at the track. It’s all about balance (and corrective trimming when needed). You won’t see yearlings at the sales with those long toes, though some will have been trimmed to minimize their conformation flaws.

Yearling TBs usually get their first set of shoes (fronts only) just before they ship to a sale. After a life spent on grass, the pea stone walks on the salesgrounds are very hard on their feet. Same for the show routine–walk, pivot, walk, pivot.

There’s a conformation pose on the video I posted above where the colt’s feet are plainly visible. That’s a sales trim. It’s also the same kind of farrier work that most TBs grow up with.


Buying two instead of just one is always an option, since buying a yearling at auction is much like buying a lottery ticket, no matter what your plans are for the yearling. Take them home, work with them a bit, get to know them, watch them move, see which one seems more likely to you, and sell one within the first year. If you are not paying board (have your own place), this is a good option if this is the way it turns out at the sale.

Race buyers seem to understand the similarity to buying a lottery ticket better than show horse buyers do, and accept that. That nothing is a sure thing, that the horse may not work out to be the horse you had hoped for the purpose you bought it for. Show horse buyers are always lookin’ for a guarantee. LOL Ain’t happening. It’s a horse. What it turns into is dependent on luck, innate talent, and your work and care. Choose wisely! And good luck. Enjoy the ride.


That’s really interesting and I thank you for sharing!

It makes sense to show them before sending them off over gravel.

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Horses are a gamble. Any horse can go lame or die at any moment.

We’ve got our own place now and my ambition is to back another colt so I’m looking at it from that perspective. No doubt those boarding and with discipline specific horse show goals likely have a different perspective.

This has been a fascinating thread! Shout out to the OP for creating such a great topic!!!


@Blugal. Go to the Sales Companies’ website, and you can look up results for prior sales.


If you go to the horse’s Equibase page, it has its auction history there.

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For sales results and catalog pages, you can also go to, click on sales at the top, ask for sales results by horse, dam or second dam and enter the name. Keeneland, Fasig and OBS have archived results online, older results from smaller regional companies may or may not be available.

Re looking at 2yos in training - there is a lot more immediate sunk cost to recoup after several months of intensive training so consignors may protect their investment more than a yearling seller that doesn’t want to pay training bills.

If you want to sell a young two year old that you have got green broke, you always have the option to sell the horse back into the racing industry. That option is still open to the horse at that stage. Either at an in training sale, or privately. He won’t be ready to breeze for an “in training” sale, but within a week or so at the track, he could at least gallop in front of the crowd at the pre-sale viewing day. Smart buyers might actually appreciate the fact that he isn’t going to breeze if he’s not ready to do so. Stupid buyers buy the one for big bucks who clocks the fastest workout time for an 1/8 prior to the sale in spring (The Green Monkey).

The purchase of The Green Monkey was the result of a bidding war between two very wealthy people.

I think you would be hard pressed to find anyone who would consider John Magnier, who stood Sadler’s Wells and co-bred Galileo, “stupid” because he bought a high priced two year old (one he could well afford) that didn’t work out.


A savvy person can still make a stupid purchase.

A lot of the bell ringers are stupid purchases driven by motives other than reason.


That wouldn’t be for me, but thanks for sharing

For sure. That was back when Magnier and Mohammed al Maktoum had their silly feud. Anyone can make a stupid purchase in hindsight but that doesn’t mean they are a “stupid” buyer. Magnier certainly isn’t.


I was appalled and dismayed by both the workout and the purchase at the time. That someone would do that to a two year old just for a sale price, and that someone who should know better would be sucked in to buying… well, two people bidding against each other for a horse who had been pushed like that. His brain was blown with “speed crazy”- not something done in quality training barns IMO. Maybe he was not gonna be much anyway, but maybe he could have been. Anyway, it’s something to avoid if wanting to buy at an in training sale, IMO. But hey, fortunately I don’t have cash like that to throw away anyway, so not an issue for me. Was just pointing out to the OP that a two year old TB can still be run through an in training sale even if they are not ready to blister down a furlong to impress the bidders… if there are bidders who are impressed by that sort of thing. And doubtless, there are.

I agree.

In my (admittedly non-professional) opinion I think the practice of clocking 2 year olds before a sale is a rotten idea.

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The exception not the rule.

Today, Two Emmys took what most likely will be the last (and only) running of the Mr D Stakes G1 (formerly the Arlington Million).

For winning, Two Emmys brought home $352,800. He was bought at KEESEP (Keeneland September Yearling Sales for a whopping $4,500. I’m pretty sure his costs (he’s a 2016 model) since he was purchased are far less than what he brought home today. Why’s he still racing? He’s a gelding.

This was sure not the rule but nice to see an exception win. He wasn’t the longest price on the board but he also wasn’t the favorite.

I don’t have too much of a problem with “clocking” a breeze before a sale. But a “breeze”, not a “set down” with a sub 10 second furlong. But, if for some reason, the horse is not ready to breeze at all before the sale, then it should not be done, and the horse should sell (obviously not gonna be the sale topper) anyway. As “not ready to clock a breeze in March, but galloping nicely (see his nice smooth galloping style), well broke, and being well looked after by a trainer who is looking after the horse’s best long term interest”. I prefer to buy one like that to one who has been pushed into doing things that he should not be doing that early, for both physical and mental detriment. But as I say, I can’t be interested in buying the sale topper anyway. There are buyers who are working within the economic parameters of their reality. Rich people don’t have these limitations.

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