Donegal Racing shares buying process at Keeneland September

September 17, 2018 01:19pm

In the midst of the 2018 Keeneland September Sale, Donegal Racing took to social media to share the formula used to purchase yearlings for its partners, one that has resulted in multiple Grade 1 winners for the syndicate formed in 2008.

Of course, the major goal is making it to the Kentucky Derby, with each class of Donegal runners named a variation of "Derby Dreams." From 10-15 yearlings, the group looks to find capable 10-furlong runners such as Keen Ice, the 2015 Travers Stakes winner. Donegal also campaigns recent Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes winner Carrick.

Before the sales, Donegal’s president, Jerry Crawford, first inputs all the Keeneland September yearlings into an algorithm he has developed and updated for over a decade. Referred to as “the lodestar of Donegal Racing,” the algorithm filters for horses that can supposedly win at 1 ¼ miles.

Conformation experts are then used to exam yearlings on the filtered list, followed by veterinarians, geneticists tests and a cardio exam, each step narrowing down the list even more.

Crawford and his son Conor, a consultant to Donegal, then analyze the pedigrees of the remaining horses along with selling prices, typically buying between 10-15 yearlings.

Here's the full explanation, with the curtain pulled back on processes for one of racing's top partnerships:

Donegal Racing has campaigned Grade 1 winners Keen Ice, Dullahan, Paddy O'Prado and Carrick in addition to multiple other graded stakes winners.

Keen Ice famously notched his Grade 1 status when he upset 2015 Triple Crown champion American Pharoah. He was a $120,000 yearling purchase but went on to earn over $3.4 million. A few years earlier, Dullahan earned three Grade 1s between the ages of 2 and 3, winning the Breeders’ Futurity and the Blue Grass and Keeneland and beating older horses in the Pacific Classic. His purchase price was $250,000 and his track earnings were over $1.7 million.

Donegal Racing has also had success on the turf, winning the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes twice. Paddy O’Prado was their first winner in 2010, a $105,000 purchase with over $1.7 million in earnings. Carrick gave them a repeat this past August when he upset the Secretariat in only his fourth career start. His earnings currently stand at $302,800, exceeding his $75,000 purchase price. 


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