by Dave Briggs
Mark Mullen is realistic when he says there’s no way he’s going to top the results of the 2017 Standardbred Horse Sales Company’s auction in which his Fair Winds Farm of New Jersey was the leading consignor, by a wide margin, with his 19 yearlings averaging $92,000 apiece.
“That was, what do you call it, a seminal year, or whatever those words are. It was the best year ever,” Mullen said.
Last year, Fair Winds consigned the third and fourth highest priced yearlings sold — Summit In Sight, a Muscle Hill colt out of Bluff that fetched $300,000 and Personal Paradise, a Muscle Hill filly out of Armbro Déjà Vu that brought $265,000.
Fair Winds will sell 28 yearlings at this year’s sale that gets underway today. Mullen said the ones the yearling inspectors keep looking at have given him an idea which ones should sell the best.
“There are four or five that people really like,” he said.
Mullen’s favorite is more sentimental. He has a soft spot for hip 320, Devine Equine, an Andover Hall filly out of Marla Bar.
“We bred her and we had the mother. The mother (Marlene Lobell) was a Joie De Vie sister to Mack Lobell that my dad bought when Mack was two and racing. I don’t remember what he paid, $17,000, I don’t remember. I had left the sale. I pointed out the horse to him and I left the sale. He bought the horse. When the horse got back to the farm, she was a trainwreck. She stood every which way, each leg pointed in a different direction. I said, ‘Oh my God, what did we do?’
“I couldn’t say a word. We just bred her, never trained her, never put a harness on her. Just bred her and she’s been wonderful. We kept this Marla Bar out of her, by Malabar Man. She was standing over there and I said, ‘We better keep an eye on this filly.’ She was a lovely filly, but she wasn’t getting a whole lot of attention. We ended up keeping her and Trond Smedshammer trained her. She was a lovely racehorse and she’s been a pretty nice broodmare and the family just keeps hanging in there.”
As for the overall vibe, Mullen said he’s sensing optimism heading into the sale.
“Everybody is optimistic. Everybody is asking what’s happening in Jersey (with a possible state funding plan) and I’m optimistic about that. I just don’t know when it’s going to happen, but I think it will. I think by the end of the year, with any luck, we’ll have some good news,” he said.