Harrisburg yearling sale nears all-time record

The yearling sale concluded Wednesday with an average of $39,516 that eclipsed last year’s glowing results and just missed the highest Harrisburg yearling average set in ’07.

by Brett Sturman

Last year’s Standardbred Horse Sales Company yearling sale at the Pennsylvania State Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg set a high bar for this year’s sale when it eclipsed the 2015 yearling sale average by more than 25 per cent. Instead of regressing or bouncing from last year’s strong auction, the 2017 sale continued to the progress set a year ago.

The three-day yearling sale concluded with Wednesday’s session in which 335 yearlings were sold. In all, 851 yearlings sold for a total gross of $33,628,500 to produce an average of $39,516. The 2017 average was up 2.4 per cent from 2016, but remarkably is up 28 per cent since 2015.

“It looks like we’re up roughly $250,000 in gross and over $1,000 per head, so we’re obviously very pleased with that,” said sale president and CEO Pete Spears immediately after the final yearling passed through the auction ring. “It would make it the second-best average of all-time and clearly we had a very strong Tuesday and a very strong Wednesday which made up for a few of the anomalies on Monday (in which pacing fillies sold higher than pacing colts), and we ended up great.”

Officially, the gross was up $116,999 from last year and per head was up $908 from last year.

One of the notable differences in the format between the last two sales and sales prior to that is the number of yearlings being offered. Prior to 2016 no Harrisburg yearling sale had ever offered fewer than 1,000 yearlings, and this year’s sale offered just 851 yearlings.

The format of reducing the amount of horses available by largely removing the yearlings determined to be on the lower end has clearly helped with the sales average price.

“I think the bidders appreciated (fewer horses),” Spears said. “I think the format was so successful this year (and last year) that it’s very likely we’re going to continue it next year again.”

Preferred Equine’s David Reid felt that in addition to the number of horses offered that the results of the sale could be attributed to many different things.

“I think it’s probably a combination of multiple factors. I would say that the horse environment is still healthy in a lot of jurisdictions. I think the stock market has been healthy, and the economy is healthy. The Canadian dollar and the foreign currencies are more in line with U.S. currency; it’s probably a culmination of a lot of those different factors.”

As expected, Wednesday’s session outpaced the same session last year due at least in part to a reduction of approximately 90 horses that were assessed to be of lower-caliber.

Wednesday’s session saw 368 yearlings gross a total of $8,238,500, which was up 3.3 per cent over last year’s same session despite selling 21 fewer yearlings this year. The average was up $22,387 to $20,490 from the same session last year.

The Wednesday sale topper was a Chapter Seven colt out of Cantana named Amanda Blue Chip that sold to Ken Jacobs of Baldwinsville, NY for $130,000. The bay filly is from the family of champions such as Creamy Mimi and Pizza Dolce, although she’s just the first living foal out of a dam that earned $4,700. Amanda Blue Chip was consigned by Blue Chip Farms.

Coincidentally, the sale topper at last year’s third session was also a Chapter Seven colt. That colt became Alarm Detector who purchased for $110,000, most recently romped in the $328,000 William Wellwood at Mohawk over Haughton winner You Know You Do. Time will tell if Amanda Blue Chip can follow in last year’s comparable example.

The second highest purchase of the Wednesday session was a colt by American Ideal out of world champion Dancinwiththestarz named Astaire that was sold to John Como Jr of Towaco NJ for $115,000.

Como told Harness Racing Communications’ Ken Weingartner that “We liked his look and I like American Ideal. And we wanted a New York-bred. We tried for a few others and didn’t get them, so I got lucky and got (Astaire) today. He’s a really nice-looking colt, well built. And (consignor) Concord Stud does a great job with their yearlings. I’m real happy to get him.”

Burke Racing Stable LLC was the sale’s top buyer, having spent $1,009,000 on 16 yearlings. Ake Svanstedt and Casie Coleman were second and third on the list, having spent $730,000 and $640,000, respectively.

Hanover Shoe Farms led all consignors with a gross of $9,585,500 for 235 yearlings sold, or an average of $40,789. Preferred Equine was second in gross with $4,005,500 for 119 yearlings ($33,660 average). For Preferred Equine, both the gross and average values were gains from last year.

Reid was content with Preferred Equine’s results and felt that the week had a workmanlike feel to it. “It seemed like the market was pretty consistent and at the end of the week it seemed like things were pretty much status quo to be honest,” he said. “I think there was a little more inconsistencies within certain ranges or certain categories, but I think you’re going to get that at times throughout the sales season. I thought the trotters held up well and overall it was good.”

As was the case last year, Somebeachsomewhere and Muscle Hill remained once again the top pacing and trotting sires.

In the case of Muscle Hill, his sheer dominance can be seen in the average yearling price by the super trotting sire. The average Muscle Hill yearling sold for an amazing $138,304 over 23 yearlings that, believe it or not, was actually down from the average Muscle Hill price last year at Harrisburg of $149,952. The next closest trotting sire was Chapter Seven, whose 22 yearlings averaged $58,364.

Following Chapter Seven, the next best trotting sires included Muscle Mass ($56,900 for 10 sold), Father Patrick ($54,857 for seven sold) and Trixton ($50,550 for 20 sold).

On the pacing side, progeny of Somebeachsomewhere averaged $74,717 for 46 horses sold. His average price was nearly identical to his 2016 Harrisburg average of $74,400 for 60 horses sold. Following Somebeachsomewhere were first crop sires Sweet Lou ($47,188 for 32 horses sold) and Captaintreacherous ($46,733 for 45 sold).

Pacing colts led all segments with 251 grossing $10,538,000 for an average of $41,984. Pacing fillies came in at an average of $35,938, and by the end of Day 3 order was restored following the results from Day 1 in which the pacing fillies inexplicably outpaced the pacing colts.

Trotting colts averaged $42,069 over 196 yearlings that totaled $8,245,000. Trotting fillies averaged $38,546 with 186 grossing $7,169,500 in all.