Inaugural Ontario Select Yearling Sale grosses $2.2 million, averages $20,427

A trotting colt bred by the late Harry Rutherford topped the sale with a bid of $140,000 from trainer Scott McEneny.

by Dave Briggs

The inaugural Ontario Select Yearling Sale, held Saturday afternoon (Oct. 17) at Winbak Farms in Inglewood, ON, saw 110 yearlings gross $2,247,000 total for an average of $20,427.

Trainer Scott McEneny was the sale’s leading buyer after purchasing the two most expensive yearlings sold — Hip #110 All In Resolve, a Resolve colt out of Im A Munchie Girl for $140,000 out of the Preferred Equine Canada consignment and Hip #17 Vintage Delight, a Bettor’s Delight filly out of Roller Cam for $72,000 consigned by Twinbrook Farms.

The fact that All In Resolve was bred by the late Harry Rutherford and his partner Diane ‘Joey’ Ingham was particularly poignant for Steve Bray, the director of operations for Preferred Equine Canada.

“It’s always nice to have the sale’s topper and, of course, we have to thank our long, lost, dear friend Harry Rutherford and Joey,” Bray said. “They’ve been great clients of Preferred and great friends. With the loss of Harry, that was a great tribute to what he’s put together over the years and to be able to top a sale like this.”

Preferred owner David Reid — who remained in the United States due to the COVID-19 border closure, despite having multiple negative COVID-19 tests this week — said selling the sale topper was a credit to Rutherford and Ingham’s terrific breeding operation.

“I know it’s been a hard year for the operation and I’m happy to see them bear some more fruits for their success,” Reid said.

Preferred and Twinbrook sold the next two highest-priced yearlings, respectively, when Lou Liebenau purchased Hip #90 Denice Muscles, a Muscle Mass filly out of Enjoy N My Lady for $72,000 and Jeff Ruch, acting as agent for Wallace Stables, purchased Hip #95 Bettorholdontight, a Bettors Delight colt out of Farouche Hanover, for $70,000.

The sale was created by Winbak owner Joe Thomson in response to the London Selected Yearling Sale’s decision to go with an online-only sale (background here) due to restrictions posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The London sale, which began online Saturday and will continue through Wednesday (details here) opted to go online only primarily because its sale facility, the Western Fair Agriplex, was being used as a COVID-19 field hospital.

Thomson opted to stage the sale at his farm — with additional online bidding — because of his preference for a live auction.

Following Saturday’s sale, Pat Woods, the farm manager for Winbak Canada that organized the sale, said, “the feedback from the people and the consignors that came here was extremely positive. We couldn’t have enough good compliments.

“We had a lot of positive comments from the people that understand the business. People like David Heffering from Tara Hills and Twinbrook Farms, Steve Bray, just the people that understand what these undertakings entail. We’re very happy. Joe (Thomson) was extremely happy with everything.”

Though Woods said staging a sale at the farm was an enormous undertaking two months in the making, he was pleased with the results from the first-time effort.

“I was happy with the sale,” Woods said. “Our auctioneers and our audio-visual guys, the people doing the live auction TV – all outstanding. The few things that I wasn’t happy about, that was just me being picky.”

Visitors to the farm for the sale were limited to only the sale crew, consignors and those that registered as bidders. Strict COVID-19 protocols were in place.

“The most difficult thing in this whole, entire set up was just not knowing the final set plan,” Woods said. “We didn’t know if we’d be allowed to have people here or if the bidding would have to be online or how many people would even be allowed here? That was the biggest thing. It was hard to plan not knowing what we needed to have in place. It came down to the last week and then we finally had to say, ‘Okay, this is it…’ For tent sizes and where we had to put them and how we had to have people spaced and all the rest of it. That was the most difficult challenge was just not knowing what was going to happen.”

Resolve led all sires in average ($60,333 for three sold), followed by Bettor’s Delight ($45,167 for six sold) and Muscle Mass ($34,000 for seven sold). Sportswriter led all sires in gross sales with $313,000 for 14 sold, followed by Bettors Delight ($271,000) and Muscle Mass ($238,000).

Preferred led all consignors with $1,106,000 in gross sales for 46 yearlings sold, followed by Winbak ($529,000 for 37 sold) and Twinbrook ($246,000 for six sold).

Twinbrook was the leading consignor by average ($41,000), followed by Joe Hudon ($32,333 for three sold) and Preferred ($24,043).

“I think the numbers for Preferred today were really good,” Bray said. “Some clients did come up and talk to me and say they were happy with their day, which is a tribute to Preferred and Dave Reid and the job he does in putting these together. Unfortunately, he couldn’t be here.”

“Obviously, with the travel restrictions, I made the decision to not go up, from a border point of view, even though I’ve taken multiple COVID-19 tests and they are all negative,” Reid said. “I just thought it would be in the best interest just to stay back here, understanding that I had Steve Bray up there to run it along with our long-established crew. I’ve got to give them all the credit.”

As for whether the sale will return next year, Woods said that was never the plan from the outset. It was simply a stop-gap measure made in a difficult pandemic year.

“This was a one-time thing this year,” he said. “We said afterwards we’d re-assess how it went and everything else, but as of right now there’s been no talk of next year. That’s not my decision, that’s a Joe Thomson decision.”