Saturday, April 2, 2011

Leading By Example

I really enjoyed Tom Thornbury’s South American series in the TDN this week. Tom is a fine judge of horseflesh, and his glowing report of the stock down there speaks volumes. I had the privilege of inspecting yearlings with Tom and the Keeneland team--Geoffrey Russell, Dr. Peter Hall, Dr. Gary Lavin, Dr. Johnny Mac Smith, Ryan Mahan and Mark Maronde--for the 2009 September Yearling Sale. Spending time with the guys and getting to see some of the best farms/yearlings in America was a fantastic experience.

Despite criticism in certain quarters, Keeneland has endeavored to innovate over recent years. Naturally, some attempts have failed while others have flourished.

Dr. Gary Lavin
 The emerging markets program has been a tremendous success, by highlighting the benefits of co-operation to an industry often restricted by vested-interest. Keeneland has added diversity to its client portfolio, while emerging breeding industries have benefitted in the form of expertise and technical support. This win-win scenario proves that success in the Thoroughbred world is not necessarily a zero-sum game. Chauncey Morris, Tom Thornbury and co. should be given credit for their tireless work.

 Keeneland’s latest affiliation with Del Mar is another step in the right direction. Encouraging new people into the game is imperative, and what better way to showcase the beauty of Thoroughbred racing than at Del Mar? The partnership needs to simplify the process of horse ownership, as outsiders are often confused by the Thoroughbred industry’s idiosyncracies. Unfortunately, this lack of knowledge has often been exploited in the past. The Keeneland - Del Mar partnership will bring integrity and transparency to the table, helping to solve these ingrained cultural issues. 

Keeneland are not content to ride out the end of the wave, and its innovation will go some way to securing the future health of the industry. Hopefully, the sales company has set a precedent that others will follow.

Keeneland Inspection Team '09

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