While Keeneland's spring race meet continues for the rest of April, the historic track is putting the focus on another of its functions. Officials at the Lexington facility Wednesday unveiled what they are calling "major enhancements" to this year's yearling sale.
Keeneland President Bill Thomason stood in the sunny paddock to announce the track's new Book One Bonus program. It will offer cash rewards to sellers and owners of yearlings that go on to win grade one races.
The offer is being made to those involved in transactions during the first day of the 2017 September sale. Thomason says the true focus at Keeneland is “full circle” from breeding to sales to racing.
“Our mission and our purpose is to enhance and to grow the sport and to perpetuate the sport.”
In year one of the bonus program, Keeneland is committing $750,000 to a reward pool for those book one horses sold that will race as two-year-olds in 2018.
The pool will grow to one and a half million the next year and each year thereafter.
Elliston says the bonus incentives will attract more high-end buyers to an event known already as the "Super Bowl" of auctions, “This will create an excitement and a momentum that gets the sales started that should have benefits low down to other books within the sale because of this excitement and momentum and this new capital that we’re trying to drive to the business.”
Although not a certainty, Elliston says it’s reasonable to think the entire pool of bonus money will be paid out.