Harrisburg concludes up marginally from strong 2016 sale

With racehorses in top demand during Friday’s final Mixed Sale session, the Standardbred Horse Sales Company celebrated a total gross of just over $53 million and an average of $35,129 that was up 1.5 per cent for the week compared to the 2016 auction in Harrisburg, PA.

by Dave Briggs

The president and CEO of the Standardbred Horse Sales Company said he’s more than pleased with the results of this year’s five-day auction that concluded Friday evening at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg, PA. Considering the catalog was, perhaps, not as potent as past years — especially for the two-day Mixed Sale — Pete Spears said he was thrilled with a sale that, overall, was up marginally from a very strong 2016 sale.

“I just feel really good about the whole thing, to be honest with you,” Spears said. “The average in the Yearling Sale was up $1,000 and with a somewhat more modest catalogue we basically equaled last year’s average in the Mixed Sale. I think that’s great.

“We didn’t have any big dispersals. The number of broodmares being offered was way down, from 180 to 152. There weren’t bell ringers. Normally, you see a fair number of bell ringers and we did not see that. Instead of taking the really good three-year-old filly off the track, getting her in foal and sticking her in the sale, you’re not seeing that right now. That just doesn’t happen. She’s either staying on the track or, you know, she maybe is bought privately. In any case, they’re not necessarily coming to auction as frequently as she used to. I think that’s a pretty significant factor here.”

On Friday, during the second of two Mixed Sale sessions, 394 horses grossed $13,838,000 total, for a session average of $35,122.

“I think (on Thursday), the overall numbers on the breeding stock were down and the sale was done earlier,” said Preferred Equine’s David Reid. “The overall numbers were down (Thursday), but I thought the racehorse market (Friday) was tremendously strong.”

The two-day Mixed Sale ended with 660 horses/stallion shares grossing $19,453,000 in all for an average of $29,474 that was up marginally by 0.22 per cent over the 2016 Mixed Sale average of $29,407. This year’s gross was down $397,000, but 15 fewer horses sold this year compared to ’16.

Combining the Mixed Sale with the three-day Yearling Sale, the Standardbred Horse Sales Company grossed $53,079,500 for the week for 1,511 horses/stallion shares. The average of $35,129 was up 1.51 per cent from the 2016 combined Mixed and Yearling average of $34,605. This year’s gross was off just $282,000 from the $53,361,500 collected in 2016 when 31 more horses/stallion shares were sold.

Trotting fillies were the dominant group during the Mixed Sale. In all, 190 female trotters grossed $6,073,500 for an average of $31,966.

“The comments from the different breeders trying to buy trotters, oh my gosh, they thought that the trotting fillies and trotting mares were just through the roof,” Spears said.

Preferred Equine led all consignors in gross sales on the final session ($8,490,500 for 222 horses sold), during the two-day Mixed Sale ($10,589,500 for 302 horses/stallion shares sold) and overall with total sales of $14,595,000 for 421 horses/stallion shares sold, an average of $34,667. Preferred sold both the sale-topper at the Mixed Sale (Big Man Ev, $210,000) and both of the two co-sales toppers at the Yearling Sale (Sheer Muscle and The Ice Dutchess at $320,000 apiece), plus seven of the eight highest-priced horses sold on Friday and 13 of the top 20 sold that day.

“Not to sound cliché, but it’s very gratifying that the entire team at Preferred Equine can perform services for so many individual clients at a high level — and to be able to participate at a venue that obviously had a good week,” Reid said. “It’s an important week on the calendar for everybody and we’re just really happy for the entire team and we thank the buyers and sellers equally for having a great week.

Hanover Shoe Farms, which led all consignors in gross for the yearling portion of the sale with a total of $9,485,000 earned, finished second overall in gross when the Yearling and Mixed sales are combined. The sport’s leading breeding farm did total business of $9,604,000 over the five sale sessions.

Northwood Bloodstock had total sales of $7,582,500 — $2,068,000 from the Yearling Sale, $4,016,500 just on Friday alone for 122 horses sold and $5,514,500 total from the two-day Mixed Sale for 184 horses/stallion shares sold.

Ranking consignors by average, Fair Winds Farm of New Jersey topped the list (with three or more horses sold) with an average of $92,000 for 19 sold, followed by Millstream Farm ($65,818 for 11 sold), Blue Chip Farms ($56,857 for 35 sold), Concord Stud Farm ($50,275 for 80 sold), All American Harnessbreds ($48,306 for 31 sold) and Twinbrook Farms ($46,727 for 11 sold).

Topping the session and the Mixed Sale was Big Man Ev a son of Chapter Seven out of Possessed By Lindy that sold for $210,000 to a group from Finland just four days after winning the $90,000 Massachusetts Sires Stakes championship at Plainridge Park in a track, stakes and lifetime mark of 1:53.3. The three-year-old colt was sold by Preferred Equine.

“Everything lined up. The horse had been racing well, never missed a check all year and just set a track record last week and is a son of Chapter Seven,” Reid said. “There was a spirited bidding war, with three or four people down to the dirty end. It was a good accomplishment and the horse was well sold, but, more importantly, we hope he goes on to do great things over (in Europe) or wherever they race him.”

The second highest priced horse sold on Friday was Mac’s Jackpot, a 3-year-old son of Somebeachsomewhere out of Michelle’s Power, purchased for $185,000 by Howard Ouriel of Rochester, NY. The gelding amassed $345,853 during his freshman and sophomore campaigns while compiling a record of 37 7-5-4. Trained by Jim Campbell, Mac’s Jackpot was very competitive in a number of Grand Circuit events this season and ended the year with a fourth-place finish in the Breeders Crown final.

Ron Burke led all buyers over the five days. He spent $1,541,000 overall on 23 horses, including $532,000 total on seven horses on the final day to top the session. His highest-priced purchase on Day 5 was $175,000 spent on 3-year-old Rockin Image—Pandemonious gelding Rock N Tony, an Indiana Sire Stakes winner at age two that also finished second in the Matron Stakes that year. In 2017, Rock N Tony won the $220,000 Indiana Super final and his Breeders Crown elimination prior to coming home eighth in the final. He has collected $522,487 from 31 starts and was formerly conditioned by Erv Miller.

Other top-priced horses sold on Friday included:

Glitzey Gal, a 3-year-old daughter of Muscle Hill out of Proclaiming April that sold for $175,000 to Bryan Montgomery of Cream Ridge, NJ.

Sianna Hanover, a 3-year-old daughter of Donato Hanover out of Simplicity purchased for $160,000 by Steve Jones of Montgomery, NY.

Lady Grey, a Muscle Hill filly out of The Queen sold to Jonas Schlabach of Apple Creek, OH for $150,000.

Lyons Snyder, a Well Said colt out of Armbro Cachet sold to Virgil Morgan of Grove City, OH for $140,000.

Temple Ruins, a Donato Hanover filly out of Temple Of Heaven sold to Bluestone Farm of Hopewell, NJ for $130,000.

Following Burke on the top buyers’ list for the combined Yearling and Mixed sales was Stroy, Inc. with $746,000 spent on 10 horses, Ake Svanstedt ($730,000 on seven horses), Casie Coleman ($675,000 on 10 horses), Montreal’s Determination Stable ($610,000 on six horses) and Crawford Farms ($579,000 on six horses).

Combining the Yearling and Mixed sales, U.S. buyers spent more than $38.8 million and made up just shy of 75 per cent of the total market — led by buyers from New Jersey ($9,590,500), Pennsylvania ($8,030,000), New York ($6,389,000) and Florida ($3,256,000).

Canadians, led far and away by Ontarians, spent more than $9.8 million over five days to make up just shy of 19 per cent of the total purchases. Europeans spent more than $3.3 million and made up 6.4 per cent of the total sale purchases.

At the end of what many opening called a “gruelling” week buying and selling horses in Harrisburg, many of the key players came out smiling.

“Obviously, it’s a long week for everyone, but ending on a high note definitely makes it easier to wake up in the morning,” Reid said.