Seelster sells London Day 1 sale topper for $150,000

A year after Dr. Ian Moore picked out a winner when he topped the Forest City Yearling Sale with two-year-old star Percy Bluechip, he paid $150,000 for Silas Seelster, the top-selling horse on Day 1 of the inaugural London Selected Yearling Sale.

by Dave Briggs

A year ago, trainer Dr. Ian Moore topped the Forest City Yearling Sale (FCYS) with a bid of $110,000 for Percy Bluechip. Thanks to a victory in her $225,000 Ontario Sires Stakes Super Final at Mohawk on Saturday, the Shadow Play filly out of Advantest has earned $374,489 already as a two-year-old. Little wonder Moore was back in London, ON Saturday afternoon hoping to duplicate last year’s sales-picking success, this time on day one of the London Selected Yearling Sale, the inaugural combined sale of the FCYS and Standardbred Canada’s Canadian Yearling Sale.

“Success, in this business, breeds more, and that’s a good thing. Most people in this business, if they make money in purses they will put it back into the business,” said Moore shortly after signing the $150,000 tab for Silas Seelster, a Shadow Play colt out of Smilesplace that topped the first of two sessions of the London sale. Day 2 begins today at noon at the Metroland Media Agri-Plex facility at the Western Fair District.

“I thought $100,000 or thereabouts would get (Silas Seelster),” Moore said. I didn’t think it would go that high, but I guess Jack Darling wanted him pretty good, too, so it was him and I bidding at the end there.”

Moore said the colt would be split between five partners to make the cost more manageable.

Silas Seelster was bred by Seelster Farms of Lucan, ON. Farm manager Karen Favacho said the colt had been attracting a lot of attention from buyers.

“He’s a striking individual. He’s a beautiful horse with a great manner. He just stood out and when he came out, he attracted everyone around him,” Favacho said.

“I thought he was the best looking colt at the sale,” Moore said. “Having said that, I didn’t look at every one, but I did look at quite a few of them. It was lucky for us that he happened to be a Shadow Play, my favorite breed.”

Moore trained and owns a part of Shadow Play. He also trained Silas Seelster’s brother, Sutton Seelster, “who won his first race as a two-year-old for us in :55…He is a nice colt and he’s still racing. Good attitude and hopefully we’ll get along well with (Silas Seelster).”

Favacho said $150,000 is the highest priced brought by a Seelster yearling in many years. That it came mid-way through the first day is good for the morale of the farm’s employees, she said.

“I like to watch the individuals who cared for this horse throughout the season, because it’s those people that we owe so much to… for making the horse what he is today,” Favacho said. “We go around and we talk to the groom and we see their face and their expressions and their happiness makes us so happy. And the money doesn’t hurt either.”

That money exceeded Seelster’s wildest expectations.

“Before the sale starts we kind of go through each of them and price them out. We had him at something high, one of our highest colts, but we didn’t have him at ($150,000) so we were really happy,” Favacho said.

Seelster was the top consignor by average during the first session. The farm sold 15 yearlings for $565,995 in total, an average of $37,773. Preferred Equine was the leading consignor by gross with 38 sold for $884,982, an average of $23,289.

The first session saw 114 yearlings gross $2,484,500 and average $21,793.

“I’m encouraged by the enthusiasm of the crowd and the size of the crowd. I think people are attracted to some of the new sires and, you know, I’m happy with the prices so far. I’m hoping for an even better day (Sunday),” said Ann Straatman, who shares the sale manager duties with Standardbred Canada’s Heather Reid.

Straatman said she hopes some early technical problems with the sound system and the results boards have been solved.

“It’s hard to create that momentum that you want to keep the sale going and those disruptions are problematic for sure, but I think we’ve got it solved and I’m excited for a full, smooth-running day (Sunday),” she said.

Sale entries were alphabetized by the yearlings’ dams’ names, meaning the first session was not seeded to produce a higher average on Day 1.

“There is equal quality on both days and I think we’ve got a strong group to sell (Sunday),” Straatman said.

Preferred Equine’s David Reid said the opening session was a bit hit or miss.

“Overall, I’d say I’m fairly pleased with the results. There were some spots where it was a little tough in there, but I thought you put a nice horse through there that they sold reasonably well,” he said. “I thought E L Titans sold well, Royalty For Life sold well, Archangels sold well. The pacing side seems solid, but we look forward to (Sunday).

“There were a few conflicts here today, with Yonkers racing during the day and the (Ontario) Super Finals (Saturday night). The sales company did a good job of shortening it up to 120 head, but (Sunday) is a new day.

“I think for the industry to have (one major Ontario sale on) one weekend that’s a positive. If they had laid off the Super Final night conflict, it would have been better. Generally, you don’t want any conflicts, but, that being said, with the (rainy) weather outside today it was good to be under one roof and I think there’s definitely something to build on.”