by James Platz
Enthusiasm is high entering this year’s Harrisburg sale, and Walnridge Farm’s Richard Meirs, DVM, is optimistic for a variety of reasons. Walnridge brings a group of 26 yearlings to the 2021 sale — 22 pacers and four trotters — eligible to programs in Pennsylvania, Ontario, New York and New Jersey. The Cream Ridge, NJ-based farm will offer 16 colts versus 10 fillies.
“They’re really, really nice-made individuals. I’ve got a surplus of colts, which is always great. There’s no question that we’re breeding a better horse and this is a real strong group.” he said.
Meirs is happy to be back at the Farm Show Complex after selling in Maryland last year, calling it an “optimum venue for the way we like to sell these horses.” He is also pleased that buyers from Canada, Europe and Australia will have a greater presence at Harrisburg this year.
“To be very honest, people don’t buy used cars without looking at them, and people don’t buy horses without looking at them. It’s very difficult to sell horses over the Internet. It’s very difficult to have buyer confidence,” Meirs said. “We’re blessed to have the opportunity to get the Canadian and the European and the Australian markets back in Harrisburg to see these horses in person, to bid on them in person and to feel the excitement of a public auction. So, I anticipate it’s going to turn into a real exciting few days.
“There’s absolutely no question that for us to sustain during the turmoil and COVID issues is phenomenal. Not only did our industry sustain, but it came out with all four feet on the ground going forward. We are very, very lucky to have such a strong industry and a strong program nationwide and worldwide going forward.”
The Walnridge Farm consignment boasts yearlings from some of the sport’s top sires, and Meirs believes several stand out from his group.
“You always have a tendency to be a little bit picky. I have a beautiful Captaintreacherous colt (Hip 48, Capt Daryl Dragon). I have a real nice Miki colt (Hip 138, Miki Finn). I’ve got a couple of real nice Huntsvilles and a couple of nice ones from Lazarus (Hip 156, Handlelikeaporsch, and Hip 342, Make Sweet Magic), so it’s a really good group.”
Huntsville comprises the largest group in the consignment with six yearlings overall — four colts and two fillies — followed by All Bets Off and Bettor’s Delight, with three apiece. A pair of Betting Line babies also will sell for Walnridge. In a few short days, Meirs and his fellow consignors will find out just how the market values their consignments. He is optimistic with the strength in which the industry has returned following the pandemic-induced shutdown last year.
“The industry has really sustained through COVID and all the tough times. The horses sold very well in Kentucky and I anticipate that is going to continue going forward,” he said. “How lucky are we to be in an industry that is not only growing, but growing by leaps and bounds? It’s a very unique opportunity for investors and the future is so bright. It’s just terrific.”
“I have a very, very handsome Stay Hungry colt (Hip 768, Never Hungry) that’s very late in the sale. He’s a super individual… I have a Huntsville filly (Hip 617, Thrill Of The Hunt) that’s late in the sale that I like a lot. The thing about the sleepers, to be honest, is with the need for horses and the quality of the market, I don’t know that we’re going to have that scenario where those that are late are going to fall through the cracks. I think the sale is going to be strong for the good individuals right on through Wednesday. I think we’re going to be fine all the way through.”