London sale tops $7 million, but down from 2017

At the second annual London Selected Yearling Sale, which concluded Sunday, the average was down 8.1 per cent and the gross was off 6.3 per cent. Karma Seelster topped the second session with a bid of $127,000 by Gregg McNair.

by Dave Briggs

Last year, the second day of the inaugural London Selected Yearling Sale was the stronger of the two sessions. This year, it was the reverse. Sunday’s session at the Metroland Media Agri-Plex facility at the Western Fair District in London, ON was the softer of the two days.

For the entire sale, 312 yearlings combined to gross $7,064,800 for an average of $22,644. The gross was down 6.3 per cent from the $7,536,000 fetched in 2017 when 306 yearlings sold.

“I don’t think you can be disappointed with a gross of $7 million,” said sale manager Ann Straatman.

The average was off 8.1 per cent from the 2017 average of $24,627, but Straatman pointed out some 30 yearlings sold at the end of the second session were initially scheduled to sell in the London Mixed Sale originally scheduled for Oct. 15, but were added to the yearling sale when the mixed sale was cancelled due to lack of entries.

On Sunday alone, 212 yearlings grossed $4,194,800, total, for an average of $19,787. The gross was down 17 per cent from the second session in 2017 when the gross was $5,051,500. The average is down 24.8 per cent from a year ago when the average on day two was $26,310.

By comparison, Saturday’s opening session saw 100 yearlings gross $2,870,000, an average of $28,700. The average was up 31.7 per cent from the opening session average of $21,793 fetched at the inaugural London Selected Yearling Sale in 2017 in which 114 yearlings were sold. This year’s Day One gross was up 15.5 from last year’s first-session gross of $2,484,500.

The difference between this year and last? Straatman said last year horses were sold alphabetically by the dam’s name and it just worked out that the first day was stronger than the second. This year, Straatman said she, “graded all of the horses by pedigree and conformation, as all sales managers do, and divided the top 200 scored horses between Day One and Day Two, so there was lots of pedigree on both days.”

She further explained that since Saturday’s opening session was kept to 100 horses so people could travel some two hours to Woodbine Mohawk Park for Saturday night’s Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS) Super Final card, the fact that Sunday featured more than double the number of horses sold as compared to Saturday naturally meant Sunday’s numbers were likely to be down.

“As a sale manager, you want to try to create momentum in the sale and have some top pedigrees towards the start of the sale and once those are sold then people move on, if they didn’t buy them, to their second choice and then those horses have an opportunity to sell for big numbers as well. That was the intention. I know that the sale managers at Lexington and Harrisburg do exactly that, in trying to create momentum in the sale. Even though it’s just a two-day (sale here), that was my intention as well,” Straatman said.

The top-selling yearling from the opening session held up as the overall sale topper. Bill Donovan of Florida paid $187,000 for Stonebridge Excel, a daughter of Muscle Mass out of Armbro Vanquish bred and consigned by Stonebridge Farm of Arva, ON.

The highest-priced yearling on Day Two was Karma Seelster, a Sportswriter filly out of Kiddie Cocktail purchased for $127,000 by trainer Gregg McNair of Guelph, ON. It was the third highest priced yearling in the sale. Karma Seelster was bred and sold by Seelster Farms of Lucan, ON.

“She was a very nice individual, it’s a nice family, being a half sister to Kendall Seelster who is a sub-1:50, multiple-stakes winner. The 2-year-old, Kylie Seelster, has stepped up and was second in the Champlain and has some stake wins as well. It’s a nice, current family, sired by Sportswriter, and, as an individual, she was nice,” said Seelster’s assistant farm manager Walter Parkinson. “Gregg actually trains Kylie Seelster, the half-sister 2-year-old.”

McNair was the sale’s leading buyer. He spent $233,000 to buy four yearlings. Preferred Equine Canada, agent, was next with $205,000 spent on 10 yearlings, followed by Mark Steacy who dropped $199,000, total, on five yearlings.

Sunday’s next highest priced yearling was Perseus Seelster, a Big Jim colt out of Pantecostal that sold to Gestion Mastel Inc. of Cambridge, ON for $80,000 out of the Seelster consignment.

Seelster Farms was the leading consignor by gross with sales of $1,928,000 for 52 yearlings sold, an average of $35,055 that ranked them second behind the average of $43,333 achieved by Stonebridge Farm, which was third in gross with $650,000 in sales from 15 yearlings. Preferred Equine Canada was second in gross with $1,679,000 in total sales from 91 yearlings ($18,458 average).

Seelster sold the second, third and fourth highest priced yearlings this year, and 10 of the top 20. It was just off the outstanding sale the farm had a year ago when it grossed $2,283,988 from 49 yearlings and sold the seven highest-priced yearlings and 12 of the top 15.

“I’m happy,” said Seelster farm manager Karen Favacho. “I’m happy with how it went. I’m happy with where our yearlings are going, especially. I’m happy with the people that supported us and supported us in the past and came back and supported us again, so we must be doing something right.”