From the Bloodhorse.
A lucky few are born into the Thoroughbred industry, immersed in life with no regard for another folly. Katelyn Jackson, a native of Fair Hill, Md., is one of those kids.
The daughter of Bruce and Amy Jackson, who own and operate Fair Hill Equine Therapy Center, she grew up in the barn, always around horses and eventually worked in the family business. But after going to college in Charleston, S.C., she took a brief hiatus from the sport to work in New York at a public relations and marketing firm.
“I needed to prove to myself that I could do something else besides horses,” she said.
Heading into the July 12 Selected Horses of Racing Age Sale at Fasig-Tipton as the sales director/coordinator for ELiTE Sales and as a member of the BSW/Crow Bloodstock team, it’s clear Jackson has found her sweet spot between the two worlds. Missing the horses, she was working for Graham and Anita Motion at Herringswell Stables as an administrative assistant when she met Bradley Weisbord and Liz Crow, and the sales side of the industry sparked her interest.
“Katelyn is the Elmer’s glue that holds everything together,” Wesibord said. “She is a trusted source for managing our consignment, and it could be $20-$30 million in horses that have come through her care through the last years. She’s in charge of both the equine and human aspects, can run the shedrow, and lead the marketing team. She is a jack of all trades and we wouldn’t be able to do it without her. She’s a partner and friend of ours and extremely loyal. She’s become a vital part of our business.”
Jackson went to work for ELiTE Sales in November of 2017 as a showman, the first year the agency hung its shingle. After the first sale she was hooked, and ELiTE Sales saw the promise in Jackson and created a position to keep her on retainer. In 2018 she was named to her current position.
Since joining BSW/Crow Bloodstock, Jackson has looked up to Crow, learning from her at the yearling and breeding stock sales from the buyer’s perspective and the feeling is mutual.
“Katelyn is unique because while young, she is incredibly focused on her job and wise beyond her years,” Crow said. “Being horse savvy, the day-to-day horsemanship required comes naturally to her—a wonderful person to be around. She always has a good attitude and is willing to do whatever is needed to accomplish the team goals. She’s talented, has a good eye for a horse, and is an integral member of our team. I feel incredibly lucky to have her as part of the team.”
Jackson also admires a few other accomplished women who have made the industry their career.
“Marette Farrell, her entire team—they are a very strong, female-oriented team, I admire their work ethic, character, and demeanor,” she said.
Taking an open-minded approach to training horses and prepping for the sales, Jackson said, “We don’t write off any horse from the get-go; we try to appreciate each animal for its own.
“Growing up around horses, I started to notice and pay attention to horses’ character, their general attitude, and demeanor,” she added. “We throw so much at them at the 2-year-old sales, and we ask a lot of them daily. It’s interesting for me to take into account and appreciate how they handle the entire sales experience. All that atmosphere at a sale can equate down the road, hopefully to a big day of racing. It’s a nice indicator to see how mentally prepared a horse is to handle those types of stressful situations.”
The November breeding stock sales were the bug that first bit Jackson, and that season has become her favorite time of the year. In 2020 ELiTE sent Monomoy Girl ($9.5 million), Midnight Bisou ($5 million), and Uni ($4.1 million) through the ring at The November Sale, Fasig-Tipton’s elite breeding stock sale. Their November Sale graduates also included Tepin ($8 million) in 2017 and Mia Mischief ($2.4 million) in 2019.
“The entire month, going from Breeders’ Cup to Fasig-Tipton, selling these superstar mares—at ELiTE we have been fortunate to get to support as they ran for our owners on the track and then when they come to the sales ring,” she said. “Going from that night of superstars and rolling that through into Keeneland with a strong Book 1 consignment, all the way down to racehorse day, you get to see all walks of Thoroughbreds, the whole life cycle; weanlings, mares, racehorses, and maiden mares. Everyone in the world has their eyes on Kentucky at that point in the year, and it’s so much fun to be a part of.”
Jackson enjoys the process of shaping a horse’s career from start to finish, watching yearlings graduate the sales and move along toward their racing debuts.
“The yearling sales are so fun; at that point you get to shape that horse’s life,” she said. “You send it through its pre-training and breaking process, and get to know their personalities and training styles as they’re developing into 2-year-olds over the winter—using that (knowledge) to help place them with the trainers that you think they will do best with.”
Their domination of the horses of racing age market has proven to be the ‘pièce de résistance’ for ELiTE, and their approach to developing each draft is unique. Specifically, the Fasig-Tipton Select Horses of Racing Age Sale is a favorite for the team; it all started here in 2017.
“We love this sale because of where it falls on the calendar,” Jackson said. “For trainers looking to sell, it’s a great outlet to move on some horses to make way for the incoming crop of 2-year-olds. For trainers looking to buy, it’s the perfect opportunity to pick up some in-form stock to go on with.”
ELiTE’s 2021 draft includes Attachment Rate (Hip 599), a 4-year-old colt by Hard Spun . Third in the April 3 Commonwealth Stakes (G3) at Keenelandand most recently third in a June 4 allowance race at Churchill Downs, the Dale Romans trainee has had five starts for 2021 with current total earnings of $236,422.
WinStar Gulfstream Park Mile Stakes (G2) winner Fearless (Hip 642), a 5-year-old Ghostzapper gelding out of the graded stakes-placed Street Cry mare And Why Not , is another of interest from the ELiTE offerings. Lightly raced through nine starts by Todd Pletcher for WinStar Farm and China Horse Club, he hasn’t finished off the board in a 5-year-old campaign of three graded events. His earnings stand at $471,280.
Hozier (Hip 659), a 3-year-old colt by Pioneerof the Nile, broke his maiden in February going 1 1/16 miles at Santa Anita Park and landed himself on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. He was second in the Rebel Stakes (G2) but missed the Run for the Roses after finishing sixth in the Arkansas Derby (G1). Runner-up in the Sir Barton Stakes in May for previous trainer Bob Baffert, he was transferred to Rodolphe Brisset and won his last outing, a mile allowance July 4 at Ellis Park.
Front Run the Fed (Hip 647), a 5-year-old stakes-winning son of Fed Biz , is a classy and versatile turf horse who has been competitive at the graded stakes level, going from six furlongs to a mile. He most recently ran third in the June 20 Poker Stakes (G3T) at Belmont Park for trainer Chad Brown and owner Klaravich Stables.
Myopic (Hip 525) comes from the family of grade 1 winner Key Phrase , the dam of Yankee Gentleman . The 3-year-old Candy Ride colt went wire-to-wire for the win in a June 23 maiden special weight going 1 1/16 miles at Indiana Grand for Rodolphe Brisset and owner/breeder SF Racing.
Trickle In (Hip 574), by Temple City , is lightly raced with seven starts to date, including a black-type win in the 2020 Christina Stakes at Delaware Park. A $72,000 purchase from ELiTE’s consignment at the 2019 Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale as a 2-year-old, this filly went on to win for her new connections and trainer Dan Blacker. Trickle In shares the female family of Menifeeque , dam of graded stakes winner Thank You Marylou .
ELiTE Sales has consistently been among leading consignors by average since 2017—across all major public auctions in the United States.
“It boils down to our loyal sellers, for entrusting us with their top offerings,” Jackson said. “Having the backing of world-class owners and trainers (such as WinStar, Klaravich Stables, Chad Brown, Todd Pletcher, and Brad Cox, to name a few) speaks volumes and is a huge driver of our success.
“Our graduates have gone on and done well for their new connections on the track, which is equally important. From our four previous Fasig-Tipton drafts, we have had eight horses go on and earn black-type success post-sale, including five stakes/graded stakes with three fillies going on to win grade 1 placings.”
Selecting horses for the consignment or as a buyer, “you can’t pretend to know everything; you need to take everything at face value. It’s a methodical process,” Jackson said. “Every horse has a value, and whether that be a useful lower-level horse that might be able to give your client some early action, or a later-developing classic two-turn horse, you have to appreciate each individual for what they are designed to do.”
Jackson said she appreciates the ever-hopeful nature of the Thoroughbred industry, despite its highs and lows.
“In life and the Thoroughbred industry, you are going to have highs and lows, but there is always tomorrow, and we get to do it all over again,” she said. “It’s a gentle reminder to stay grounded and humbled, but also not to get too down on yourself and to always have the eternal optimism of tomorrow.”