Updated on 09/15/2011 2:01PM

Attacks cast a pall over Keeneland sale


LEXINGTON, Ky. - The second session of Keeneland's September yearling sale was postponed Tuesday shortly after the hijacked airline attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C. The sale will resume on Wednesday at 10 a.m. Eastern time with hip No. 285.

News of the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York came about an hour before the second day of the 13-day sale was scheduled to begin Tuesday at 10 a.m. Eastern time. Televisions throughout the pavilion and the barn area, normally tuned to sale-ring activity, instead showed scenes of the disaster as stunned buyers, sellers, and sales staff watched.

Keeneland president Nick Nicholson mounted the auctioneer's stand and addressed a nearly empty bidding arena to announce the sale would be delayed. The decision to postpone the session was made about an hour later.

Of immediate logistical concern for Keeneland was the potential overflow of sale yearlings arriving at the racetrack for late sessions at the 13-day sale, even as the Tuesday sale yearlings remained on the grounds to be auctioned off on Wednesday. Normally, sale yearlings must be removed from the grounds within 24 hours of selling, but the postponement left almost 300 horses still in their stalls. According to Jim Williams, director of communications for Keeneland, the barn area was not completely full as of Tuesday, but the sale company was taking precautions by alerting van companies.

"As soon as we knew the sale was going to be interrupted, we contacted the various van companies to alert them about the delay so they could make appropriate plans either to stop shipments or to house the incoming horses elsewhere if they couldnt get into Keeneland," Williams said. "There are horses who would have exited this morning who havent yet."

Williams said that Keeneland had taken stock of available local stall space, including potential open stalls at Keenelands training center north of Lexington, in case the space were needed.