London Calling

Organizers of the London Selected Yearling Sale, to be held Saturday and Sunday at the Metroland Media Agri-Plex at the Western Fair District in London, ON are hoping to top last year’s terrific inaugural sale.

by Dave Briggs

A year after the London Selected Yearling Sale exceeded expectations in its inaugural auction, sale manager Ann Straatman is hoping for even bigger results from this year’s sale to be held Saturday and Sunday (Oct. 13-14) at the Metroland Media Agri-Plex facility at the Western Fair District in London, ON.

“If I were comparing catalogues? Absolutely,” Straatman said when asked if it’s possible for this year’s sale to surpass the 2017 auction that grossed $7,536,000 for 306 yearlings sold, producing an average of $24,627. “We’ve got a great catalogue this year, a lot of top horses. I think that there are a lot of those top prices catalogued here this weekend.”

Straatman said she would be thrilled to even equal last year’s numbers.

“It was a fantastic sale,” she said.

This year, 324 yearlings are scheduled to be sold over two days. Both sale sessions begin at noon.

Straatman, who is also the reproduction manager of Seelster Farms in Lucan ON, said there is something for everyone in this year’s sale.

“There is every pedigree, every size, every gait of horse for the buyers… and not just Ontario, I’m hoping for a North American audience, but certainly there’s something for everyone here.

She said the fact the London sale comes a week after a Lexington Selected Yearling Sale that smashed records for gross with nearly $40 million in sales is important, especially for London’s predominantly Canadian buyers.

“I know a lot of Ontario buyers were in Lexington as well and if they weren’t able to get the yearlings they wanted there, I’m hoping this is their next stop for their yearling purchases,” she said, adding that a low Canadian dollar may have had some Canadian buyers saving their money for the London sale rather than pay an exchange-driven premium on yearlings in Kentucky. “I think that is a huge advantage for us this year.”

As for the state of the industry in Ontario, Straatman said she’s heard “nothing but positive” from fellow breeders and buyers.

“Putting on my Seelster hat, I know we’ve had a lot of traffic to the farm every day. In talking with other consignors I know it’s been very similar. I think there’s a lot of interest and I think with a record sale in Lexington that momentum, I’m hoping, will carry over here,” Straatman said.

Ontario-sired horses that make up the bulk of the London sale are still in high demand. At the Lexington Selected Sale, 128 progeny of Ontario stallions fetched $5,089,000 combined and averaged $39,758. The gross was up over $500,000 from the Ontario-sired yearlings that sold in Lexington in 2017. This year, progeny of Bettor’s Delight, who stands at Winbak Canada, were especially popular in Lexington. Twenty-one Bettor’s Delight yearlings grossed $1,472,000, total, and averaged $70,095. Kadabra, who stands at Tara Hills Stud in Port Perry, ON, grossed the second most of the Ontario sires with $1,275,000 total for 30 sold, an average of $42,500.

The London sale is the result of a partnership between the Forest City Yearling Sale and Standardbred Canada’s Canadian Yearling Sale that started in 2017.

“Standardbred Canada are great partners. They understand the business. There are some new people, (CEO) Dan Gall and (chief financial officer) Chris Ferraz and they are learning the sale business as we go along,” Straatman said.

“Standardbred Canada has done a great job with the Yearling Expo in the lobby and they are also doing some seminars this year again,” Straatman said. “Pedigrees, conformation. They have what’s called Ownership 101. So there are things geared towards the new yearling owner, someone who is interested in learning more from the experts. I think that’s going to be a great addition as well. It is sponsored again by Ontario Racing.”

Saturday’s opening session comes the same day as Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS) Super Final Night at Woodbine Mohawk Park in which eight $225,000 Super Finals equal $1.8 million in purses. Though Woodbine Mohawk Park is a nearly two-hour drive from the London sale, Straatman promises to get buyers on the road in plenty of time by starting the sale at noon and selling just 100 yearlings on Saturday. She points to last year’s strong sale, which was also held on Super Final weekend, as an indication it didn’t hurt sale numbers.

“I understand that it’s a Catch-22, that those that are participating find it amazingly hectic to attend a sale then go to the Super Final with their charges, but I’m hoping we see the increased audience we got last year – quite a few more people that we don’t normally see that are here in town for Super Final weekend and hopefully participating in the sale,” Straatman said.

Seelster Farms was last year’s leading consignor by average ($46,612), sold the seven highest-priced yearlings and 12 of the top 15 and grossed $2,283,988 from 49 yearlings sold.

Straatman said it’s too tough to predict which of the farm’s yearlings will sell best, but, “similar to the whole sale, Seelster has something for everyone. I’m happy with our first foals this year. We have three first-crop sires in Wheeling N Dealin and Prestidigitator and Thinking Out Loud and we’re excited for those horses for sure.”

Complete sale roster here.