September Grads Make Their Mark on the Track

September Grads Make Their Mark on the Track

The Keeneland September Yearling Sale is noteworthy for the industry-leading returns to breeders when the world’s leading buyers converge in Lexington for the annual auction. And it is also known as the premier marketplace for horses that go on to excel at the highest levels of racing throughout the world.

Winning Racing’s Highest Honor

When North American horse racing honors its champions annually, the list of Eclipse Award winners is consistently headed by horses that went through the auction ring at the September Sale. September Sale horses have been honored as Horse of the Year in four of the past five years, with 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify leading the list. Racing’s top honor was also recently bestowed upon September Sale grads Bricks and Mortar (2019), Authentic (2020) and Knicks Go (2021).

I tell everybody this is our draft. This is the NFL, the major league. What happens at this sale will determine your future for the next few years and beyond. The more success you get out of it the more you can buy.
Mark Casse

Six Eclipse Award Winners in 2022

During the Eclipse Awards ceremony earlier this year at the Breakers Palm Beach hotel, six of the 10 champions for flat racing achievements in 2022 were September Sale graduates. The honorees in their respective divisions were Forte (outstanding Two-Year-Old Male), Wonder Wheel (Two-Year-Old Filly), Epicenter (Three-Year-Old Male), Nest (Three-Year-Old Filly), Malathaat (Older Dirt Female) and Elite Power (Male Sprinter).

elite power
elite power

Forte Rewards Repole, St. Elias

Over the past two years, Mike Repole’s Repole Stables and Vinnie Viola’s St. Elias Stable have spent more than $30 million on September Sale yearlings. That group included Forte, purchased for $110,000 from the Eaton Sales consignment at the 2021 sale. Victories by the precocious son of Violence in the FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) Presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance and the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (G1), both at Keeneland, earned the colt an Eclipse Award as Outstanding Two-Year-Old Male and vaulted him to the top of the leaderboard for this year’s Kentucky Derby (G1).

When you buy 100 horses, if you can get 2 percent of them to be Grade I winners, you're going to pay for the whole crop. It is very difficult. But I think I play at all different levels. And listen, I don't want to give away a secret, but, I'm aggressive.
Mike Repole (TDN)

September Sale First Step to Classic Success

Owners seeking to win America’s most prestigious Three-Year-Old races—the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont—begin their quest for classic success at the September Sale, which has produced winners of four of the last seven runnings of Derby, six of the seven most recent editions of the Preakness, and three of the last five Belmont Stakes.

Mo Donegal and Early Voting, winners of the 2022 Belmont S. (G1) and Preakness S. (G1), respectively, went through the sales ring at Keeneland, as did 2022 Travers S. (G1) winner Epicenter and Zandon, who was victorious in Keeneland’s iconic Blue Grass (G1) last year.

Both were very athletic-looking compared to most of the other yearlings. They were also both very intelligent and alert all the time.
Bryan Lyster, Ashview Farm, which sold Nest and Mo Donegal (

Conquering the World

In addition to success in Triple Crown races, horses that went through the sales ring in September have won the world over, with 42 Grade 1 wins in 2022. Notable September Sale Grade 1 stars of 2022 included Emblem Road, winner of the world’s richest race, the $20 million Saudi Cup; Country Grammer, winner of the $12 million Dubai World Cup and Life Is Good, victorious in the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational.