Reinvention and reinvestment continues in the return of Andrew Harris

The trainer spent over $2 million to acquire seven yearlings for Bill Pollock and Bruce Areman on the opening day of the Standardbred Horse Sales Company’s yearling auction that grossed $15.2 million (down 23 per cent from last year) and averaged $99,497 (down 17 per cent).

by Ray Cotolo

Rumors are arising that he now be called Andrew Harrisburg after dropping over $2 million on purchases from the Monday (Nov. 6) opening session of the Standardbred Horse Sales Company yearling auction in Harrisburg, PA.

Spending big bucks has become a trend for Andrew Harris, who continues to renovate his barn a few years back fully in the sport. Harris first caught headlines last year when he purchased free-for-all pacer Abuckabett Hanover for $534,000 and the strong investments have persisted with support from owners Bill Pollock and Bruce Areman. In Lexington, Harris walked away with 10 yearlings costing just over $3 million. And on Day 1 of the Harrisburg Sale, Andrew took home seven yearlings, four of which came in the top-five highest sales of the day.

“Bill and Bruce have been amazing,” Harris said. “This is a dream come true for me. It’s a unicorn situation – I get to come here and buy the exact horses that I want to buy. Not many people get to do that… the top barns do, the Akes and the Alagnas, but I’ve never ever dreamed of being in a position like this. For me, I don’t even think it’s real sometimes. It’s unbelievable for me.”

On Monday at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex, Harris first rung bells with a $300,000 winning bid on Hip #33, a filly named Millie May Hanover by Bettor’s Delight out of the mare Mayhem Seelster who is a half-sister to stakes winners Mad Max Hanover, Mirage Hanover and Mollop Hanover. Then, just a couple horses later, Harris signed a ticket worth $400,000 for Hip #41, a colt named Hatfield by Cantab Hall out of the dam Nicole’s Promise. That colt is a full brother to freshman phenom T C I.

“To me, if you’re looking for the top trotters in here, he was one of the top trotters in the sale,” Harris said of Hatfield. “I think everybody likes the family. T C I has been an absolute creature. They are all Cantab Halls, all full brothers. [Hatfield] is a really good-looking colt. He was a touch skinnier than what T C I looked like, but other than that he had no major faults.”

The colt came in a price slightly higher than expected, said Harris, as did the pacing filly Millie May Hanover he purchased.

“I went a little bit over on her, but if you want them you’ve got to pay for them,” Harris said. “I had in my book $250,000. To them, $50,000 extra… it’s a lot to me, it’s not as much to them. For them, it’s like ‘If you think it’s worth $250,000, then I think it’s worth $300,000’ so bid. That whole family is awesome. Mad Max Hanover has been awesome. Mirage Hanover looked to be one of the best 2-year-olds of the year, then he got a little sick. I think the family is just a 100 per cent producing family, so why not take a shot at it?”

After buying Hip 41, Harris said he had “maybe one” more major purchase ahead of him on the day. He proceeded to buy three more through the day at over $400,000.

Nestled against the curtain coating the corridor to the North Hall, Harris struck the winning bid on Hip #103, a filly by Gimpanzee out of the mare Jolene Jolene named Voguish. Harris signed the slip for $535,000, the second-highest price on the day.

“She was just royally bred, just impeccably bred,” Harris said of the filly who is three-quarter sister to millionaire Venerable and a half-sister to half-millionaire Crucial. “She’s worth it on the ROIs and as a broodmare as well, so you’ve got the out there and hopefully she works out to be a nice racehorse, too.”

Fittingly, the Monday session ended with Andrew Harris. He won the auction on Hip #155, a colt named Twin B Euchre by Bettor’s Delight of the mare Fresh Breeze. This came after Harris had also struck the winning $400,000 bid a few horses before on Hip #142, a Sweet Lou half-sister to millionaire Bythemissal named Penny Benjamin. Twin B Euchre came in at the third highest tag of the day with Harris signing the purchase for $500,000.

“I didn’t think he’d cost that much, but I guess a few people were onto him,” Harris said of Twin B Euchre. “And Twin B Joe Fresh [his three-quarter sister] has been amazing, so that’s a big part of it.”

Yet, through all his purchases, Harris most wanted to walk away with the filly Penny Benjamin.

“To me, she was the ‘wow’ filly of the whole sale,” Harris said. “I love her the most out of all the other pacers. Bythemissal has been a freak and she just looks the part. Nobody has to say anything more about Sweet Lous right now. If I had to pick one, I would’ve picked her all day.”

Not only has Harris come with a full holster to the sales in 2023, but his investments mark a turning tide in his redeveloping operation.

“We cut down a lot on the racehorses and gone straight into the stakes horses,” said Harris, who now has around 30 horses in his stable. “The spring will be busy, very busy. There will be a lot of late days training all these guys, but that’s the fun part. There’re a lot of dreams in here. With what we’ve bought, we should hit on something.”

And with most of his purchasing done, Harris can likely leave Harrisburg after Day 2.

“I think I am. That’s the plan,” Harris said. “I’ve got to go race in the Matron on Thursday.”


A few horses after Harris acquired then-sale topper Voguish, the gavel slammed on a $600,000 bid for Hip #123, a Muscle Hill colt out of the mare Brooklyn named De Kooning. His siblings include a full brother in near-half-million-dollar earner Kings County and quarter-million-dollar earner Brooklyn Hill among others. The winning bid came from Ron Burke.

“The guys thought it was the best trotting colt in the sale. Dr. J loved it, so…they said buy it, pretty much no matter what,” Ron Burke said. “They’ve had real good success buying off Stefan Balaszi and Concord and they like to go back to where they’ve done well. I know Bud [Hatfield] really wants to win a Hambo. He’s not getting any younger, so he went out and said, ‘That’s the best colt’ and he wants it. I give those guys credit for stepping up and it’ll be cool, something different. I’m used to pressure anyhow, so it doesn’t bother me.”

Jeff Snyder acquired a pair of high-tag yearlings, the biggest price coming for Hip #87, a Chapter Seven filly named Royal Mission, for $390,000. She is a full sister to a pair of Canadian Trotting Classic winners in Ahundreddollarbill and Slay as well as to New York stakes winner Royal Filly. Early in the sale he purchased Hip #24, Chapter Seven colt named Lorax Hanover, for $300,000. He is the second foal out of world champion and 2014 Hambletonian Oaks winner Lifetime Pursuit.

“I can’t wait to get out of here because that will stop me from spending any more… but we got what we wanted again,” Jeff Snyder said with a smile. “We’ve had luck with Chapter Seven. The colt was dual eligible, Kentucky and New York, and this one is New York. The filly we can always fall back and get some residual value with the breeding, too. Just a beautiful filly – we loved her, for sure. We fell in love with her. One of them we thought we underpaid and we were prepared to go more for the colt, but the filly went a lot higher than we thought it would go. So we averaged out.”


Through the Monday session, sales prices stayed fairly consistent, but the Day 1 numbers missed the record-breaking figures of the last two years in Harrisburg. Coming off back-to-back all-time high sales, Monday’s session grossed $15,223,000 from 153 yearlings sold for an average of $99,497 – down 23 per cent from last year’s gross of $19,761,000 and down 17 per cent from last year’s average of $119,763.

“There were soft spots, but there were great spots,” said Dale Welk, president and director of operations for the Standardbred Horse Sales Company. “There were some great horses bought at good prices today, so I think there should be a lot of happy buyers and I know we’ve got some happy consignors. We have some great horses coming up and I’m looking forward to tomorrow and I think we’ll get more back on track tomorrow, I really do.

“A good way to sum it up… putting that Monday catalog together is like doing artwork, not everybody is going to like it, you know?” Welk also said. “There were probably some things that I would’ve done differently had I really sat down and hammered it out, but you try to keep everybody as happy as you can. Our consignors had the opportunity to switch around and we did do some switching. You know, everybody up until now had a great buzz. We had a great buzz and there were a lot of great buyers here. They’ll step up and it’s going to come around.”

Welk conjectured that the dips seen in the opening session have several potential root factors, including buyers not flocking to their wallets for certain stallions to a turbulent economy impacted by recent world events.

“We’ve come off two great years so it’s hard… you’ve got to accept that sooner or later it’s going to happen,” Welk said. “It’s tough, but I think everybody understands what’s going on. Like I say, I’m still looking forward to the rest of the week and a great sale.”

Today’s marathon session begins at 10 a.m. with 356 horses set to go through the ring.