The Harrisburg yearling sale, which concluded Wednesday, broke the record for average and topped $40 million in gross sales for just the second time in its history.
by Ray Cotolo
A couple hundred yearlings circulated through the sales ring before Casie Coleman won the gavel slam on a $110,000 purchase, which for most Wednesday afternoon (Nov. 6) topped the figure-busting final session of the Standardbred Horse Sales Company’s yearling sale.
The yearling sold as Hip 711, named Twin B Edge, about 200 yearlings into the day. Sired by former Coleman trainee Betting Line, the colt consigned by Twinbrook Farms joined several other yearlings purchased by Coleman also sired by one of her stable’s past stars.
“I’m pretty sure that was number nine,” Coleman said. “And there’s one more coming that I want. I said I would support him, he’s just an unreal sire. Everything about him – his conformation, his speed, his breeding, his manners – so I stood by my word and loaded up on Betting Lines.
“Most of them that I bought look a lot like him,” Coleman also said. “(Twin B Edge) would be the smaller one that I bought… he’s very long. He’s got a long barrel, but he’s a bit shorter than I would normally like, but I don’t mind that as long as they are long in the barrel. It’s a very good pedigree and he was raised at a good place.
“He looks just like his dad, probably more than any of them that I bought.”
Soon after Twin B Edge broke the six-digit threshold for the day, Jim Glass purchased the Chapter Seven colt Vali Hanover for $100,000.
“He was a great mover in the paddock,” Glass said. “We liked his conformation. We just really liked the colt. Great, athletic-looking colt. We were ready. We did our homework, we knew he was a nice colt and other horsemen would see that, too, so we were ready to go.”
Towards the tail of the sale, Myron Bell and Tony Alagna took the spot as the day’s highest bidders when acquiring Keystone Catalyst, Hip 809 consigned by Vieux Carre Farms, for $120,000. The Betting Line colt comes from a broodmare sharing the maternal family of Bedroomconfessions, which also raced for Bell and Alagna.
“It’s a family we believe strongly in,” Alagna said. “We’re very invested in the family with Bedroomconfessions and a lot of those horses, so when we saw him at the farm we wanted to take a shot.”
Combining all three of this year’s sessions, 833 yearlings sold for a total gross of $40,736,000, an average of $48,903. The average smashed the all-time record for the Harrisburg yearling sale average by 14.6 per cent over the previous record of $42,675 fetched in 2018.
In 2018, 830 yearlings grossed $35,420,000, total.
In 2017, 851 yearlings grossed $33,628,500, total, for an average of $39,516
This year marked just the second time the yearling sale topped $40 million. The record for yearling sale gross came in 2007 when 1,048 yearlings — 215 more than sold this year — brought $42,784,000 in all (average of $40,824).
Sixty-nine yearlings sold for $100,000 or more, up from 54 in 2018, 53 in 2017 and 56 in 2016.
Wednesday’s session grossed $8,084,000 for 365 yearlings sold, an average of $22,148, which was up 6.6 per cent over last year’s same session average of $20,793. The gross was up 8.9 per cent from last year’s third session total of $7,423,000 for 357 yearlings were sold.
“It’s been strong throughout, it really hasn’t weakened,” Standardbred Sales CEO Pete Spears said. “People still want horses, even though it’s done.”
For the sport’s leading consignor, Hanover Shoe Farms, the sale proved equally as lucrative. Hanover grossed $14,371,000 for 233 yearlings sold, an average of $61,678. That total is almost $8.5 million more than the second leading consignor, Concord Stud, which had total sales of $5,914,000 for 69 yearlings sold, an average of $85,710
“We’re over $14 million for Harrisburg alone,” said Russell Williams, president of Hanover Shoe Farms. “Our best in Harrisburg was $11-something (million), close to $12 million, so we’re up two million-and-something. I’m very happy. We can build a lot of fences with that.”
The success of the yearling sale at Harrisburg followed growth also at this year’s Lexington Selected Sale, which posted records for gross ($46,480,000) and average ($60,997). The median rose from $35,000 in 2018 to $40,000 this year. About the only stat that was down from the 2018 sale was the number of yearlings sold for $100,000 or more (121 this year compared to 124 last year).
“There’s a lot more money circulating in the whole economy, so we’re just getting our share of that,” Williams said. “I think, though, that when we’ve seen difficult years in recent past, it was due to specific problems that have resolved themselves. We don’t have all the same problems that we used to have, so there is reason for optimism.
“We’ve got some new problems, but I think we can solve them and be stronger for it, so I’m quite optimistic.”
TOP BUYERS AND SIRES
The Burke Racing Stable LLC led all buyers with $1,747,000 spent, total, on 17 yearlings, followed by Ake Svanstedt with $1,518,000 spent, in all, on 12 yearlings. Courant Inc. ($1,189,00 for seven), Dana Parham ($1,089,000 for eight) and Coleman ($1,075,000 for 11) all spent seven figures.
Muscle Hill and Somebeachsomewhere were the respective trotting and pacing sire kings again this year. Progeny of Muscle Hill fetched $4,753,000 in all for 31 yearlings and the trotting superstar also led all stallions in average with $153,323. Somebeachsomewhere offspring grossed $4,208,000 in all, an average of $97,680.
Standardbred Horse Sale Company now readies the Farm Show Complex for transition into the two-day mixed sale beginning today. Spears said he thinks the mixed sale could ride the current spending momentum.
“There’s been tremendous interest in broodmares, especially I think everyone is really looking forward to the White Birch dispersal,” Spears said. “We’ve had interest from all over the world and people are ready to fire tomorrow.”
David Reid heads Preferred Equine, which saw growth in the yearling portion of the sale and has one of the largest mixed sale consignments.
“I would say it’s a pretty consistent market,” Reid said. “Off the heels of Lexington, it’s been very energetic here the first two days and today we’re grinding through them, but, overall, it’s been a good week.”
This year in particular marks a bittersweet moment for Reid as Preferred Equine manages the dispersal of White Birch Farms. The White Birch dispersal will bring 30 broodmares in foal through the sales ring. Among the many mares is Darlinonthebeach — a millionaire daughter of Somebeachsomewhere currently in foal to Always B Miki — along with her dam Darlin’s Delight, who is in foal to American Ideal and will sell right after Darlinonthebeach.
“In the White Birch mares themselves, there’s seven millionaires in there,” Reid said. “I think two or three double millionaires, including the dam of Bee A Magician. It goes on and on and on. Then, Friday is a racehorse day. There, again, we have a lot of horses that have been racing and winning. We have a lot of magnificent mares, 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds that will continue to race or go into the breeding shed. We’re looking forward to that type as well.”
The 2019 Standardbred Mixed Sale begins today at 10 a.m. (EST) with the second session going Friday, Nov. 8 also at 10 a.m. (EST).