Harrisburg transforms after record-smashing yearling sale

New records were set for average ($54,653) and median ($32,000) as the yearling sale concluded with a near-record $42,465,500 in gross sales on the cusp of the two-day mixed sale which begins today.

by Ray Cotolo

By about 4 p.m. Wednesday (Nov. 10), the signs at the Hanover Shoe Farms consignment in the Main Hall started to come down. Blue Chip Bloodstock and other consignments cleared shop by the end of the day while semi-truck loads of horses parked at dusk with their bulbs of blue, yellow and white shining bright outside the loading zone of the Farm Show Complex. Even amid the yearlings sprawling from the West Hall fences before going around the ring during the day, horse traffic increased through the facility as the Standardbred Horse Sale Company (SHSC) began to work on a transformation miracle.

The powers that be have sparse time to ruminate over the days that passed with the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex (PFSC) transforming from its yearling-based layout to its distinct setup for the Mixed Sale, which begins at 10 a.m. today (Nov. 11).

“We’ll do the curtain and the decoration, getting it all together and switched over for the other consignors,” said SHSC president and director of operations Dale Welk, who joined much of his staff on the floor of the PFSC in readying the building for today. “We have to change all the curtains out and put new curtains up, so that’s what we’re working on now. Actually, my crew is out having a bite to eat for dinner and then they’ll all be down and we’ll get it knocked out in the next few hours.”

Despite the work still being accomplished to pull off the remainder of the sale, the figures posted by the yearling portion are not to be ignored. Wednesday’s (Nov. 10) session grossed $9,038,500 from 356 yearlings, topping 2019’s session gross of $8,084,000 from 365 yearlings (up 11.8 per cent). The 2021 average both cumulatively and for the third session also beat 2019’s numbers, with the single-session average at $25,389 (up 14.6 per cent from the session average in 2019 of $22,148) and the cumulative average at $54,653 (up 11.8 per cent from the cumulative average in 2019 of $48,903). With 777 horses selling through the yearling portion, 2021’s sale just missed the all-time-record gross of $42,784,000 in 2007 when 1,048 yearlings sold. Nonetheless, 2021’s yearling sale became the third in SHSC history to break $40 million with a gross of $42,465,500 (up 5 per cent from 2019’s record cumulative gross of $40,736,000). The 2021 sale also set a record for median price of $32,000, beating the previous record of $29,000 in 2019.

“The overall sale was just wonderful,” Welk said as more broodmares strode through the Main Hall towards their stalls. “It’s amazing and I can’t thank the buyers, bidders and consignors and everyone enough. It was just an amazing sale – we’re over $40 million.”

Presumably, Welk, off the record-breaking day, finally had a chance to have dinner.

Wednesday’s leaders

Paul Kelley signed the most-expensive slip of the day when winning auction on Hip 598, a filly named Unity Blue Chip. Consigned by Blue Chip Farms LLC, the E L Titan filly from the Credit Winner mare Credittomyfamily – whose granddam is Moni Maker (7, 1:52.1M; $5,589,256) – went at the bid of $145,000.

“I had a couple [E L Titans] this year that I liked a lot – really good-gaited horses,” Kelley said. “This filly here, I thought she was just an exceptional individual. She’s got just a tremendous head on her, beautiful shoulder, tremendous top line, big hind end and plenty of leg… it’s a really nice, young family, so I’m really excited about that. So, really, really excited to have her in the barn.

“I didn’t think we could get her for less than $100,000. I figured it was going to go in that range, probably $150,000 or somewhere in that range. I think she’s well worth it. We’ll have partners on that filly and looking forward to getting her started and hoping for the best.”

Only two other horses on the day broke six digits, doing so by the bare amount and just a few minutes apart from each other. First, the husband-wife team of Shane and Lauren Tritton acquired Hip 784, a Huntsville colt named Duck Dynasty bred by Blair and Erna Corbeil and consigned with Blue Chip Farms. He left the arena for $100,000.

“We loved this horse from the moment Shane and I laid eyes on him at a private inspection at Blue Chip Farms,” Lauren Tritton said. “We saw him trot in the field and his movement is unbelievable. The way he covers the ground is on the smaller side, but he is built like an army tank. He’s also a New York bred, which is outstanding for us to race at Yonkers. His price was expected. I think his videos and presence were hard to ignore.”

Tritton also said that they purchased the colt, who is the first foal from the Rock N Roll Heaven mare Rockn Opium, for Steve Heimbecker of Waterloo, ON.

Hip 786 left the ring for $100,000 – a Sportswriter filly named Sublime Hanover. From the Western Hanover mare Sammy’s Magic Girl, she’s a half-sister to 2020 O’Brien 2-Year-Old Pacing Filly of the Year Scarlett Hanover (3, 1:50.4S; $863,454) and the sixth foal from the mare. Wilma and James MacKenzie of Tauares, FL signed the ticket.

Blue Chip Farms led all consigners on the day by average with eight horses selling for an average of $53,250. Concord Stud Farms led all consigners through Black Book 1 by average with 59 horses selling for an average $109,932. Black Book 1 also ends with Walner retaining the throne among stallions by average earnings with 19 progenies selling for $172,737. Muscle Hill stayed in second with 20 yearlings selling for an average of $165,300 and Chapter Seven ranked third with 23 yearlings selling for an average of $154,522.

Preferred preview

Kickoff for the Mixed Sale begins today with a small section of yearlings and weanlings before a day of stallion shares and broodmares takes center stage. A large portion of the Mixed Sale – both today and Friday – operates out of the Preferred Equine consignment, which has over 200 horses to sell through the two days.

“I think we’re well-stocked,” said Dave Reid, president of Preferred Equine. “I think we have a really good draft of horses. From the breeding prospect side, I know we have a lot of good breeding prospects. We have mares. We have shares. We’ve got some yearlings in the morning that we’re going to sell off right away and then tomorrow afternoon we’ll get to the mares in foal. We have mares in foal to all of the top commercial sires and we’re selling 10 mares in foal to Walner. We’ve got mares in foal to Captain and Sweet Lou. Just a good, strong base, so we’re looking forward to tomorrow for sure.”

Since the first day of the sale, a large buzz has surrounded the broodmare portion of the Mixed Sale, but Reid expects a strong enthusiasm for the other sections of the Mixed Sale.

“I think the breeders are obviously going to be very interested in the broodmares and the broodmare prospects,” Reid said. “Then, we’ll have the racehorse guys come in on Friday, right? It’s a good mix and it’ll be a good two days. The catalogue is not overly huge – it’ll be a nice session tomorrow and a nice session on Friday.

“Preferred has a lot of quality. We’re deep. There’s a lot of current performers and a lot of proven performers. When you have current and you have proven and you have performers usually you have the results.”

A portion of the broodmares today will sell out of farm dispersals. Preferred Equine consigns the one dispersal of 10 mares from Warrawee Farms, but the other dispersal comes from Herb Liverman’s broodmare band. Peninsula Farm consigns the eight-mare section which includes the world-champion Glidemaster mare Maven (4, 1:51.4h; $1,997,809).