Second Standardbred sale session steady despite decline

Through two days, the cumulative gross of $29.9 million and the average of $60,187 are off 16 per cent and 15 per cent, respectively, but that is in comparison to last year’s record-breaking auction.

by Ray Cotolo

Numbers through the second day of the Standardbred Horse Sales Company yearling auction remained below the lofty highs set from the last two years of the Harrisburg, PA sale, but Tuesday’s (Nov. 7) session displayed a level market with improvements from Day 1.

From 344 yearlings sold on Tuesday, the sale grossed $14,690,000 for an average of $42,703. The gross is down 8.3 per cent from last year’s second session total of $16,014,000 and the average is down 9 per cent from $46,962. Yet those metrics improved from the first session, which was down 23 per cent year over year on the gross and 17 per cent on the average.

“As we were just discussing [yesterday], you can’t have record sales every year,” said Dale Welk, president and director of operations for the Standardbred Horse Sales Company. “The consignors and owners do a wonderful job and the buyers do a great job buying them. I’m just one of those that wants everybody to be happy and when someone is not happy… I worry about it. I take it personally and I shouldn’t because we do the best that we can and give everybody a platform to sell them, but we can’t force anybody to buy them.”

The decreased figures in the 2023 sale comes off back-to-back record-breaking years for the Harrisburg sale and coincides with a turbulent economy both in America and abroad influenced by ongoing geopolitical factors.

“In my mind, there was a feeling that it could level off,” Welk said. “I expected to be down some. I really did, to be realistic. Then, of course, all the happenings going on with the economy and then it really becomes realistic. I didn’t think we’d have another record year. I’ve been lucky for the last two years that I’ve been the president of the sales company because last year was effortless, just incredible. It’s one of those things, it’s a lot to go through these next months.

“I think there were a lot of investments made in the last few days. There should be some real, real happy owners and trainers come out of this sale. Where we’re at, we are still roughly at the fourth or fifth-highest grossing sale, anyway. You get a little down about it and I get a little down about it, but there’s a lot of feel-good stories that come out of it for me. I had a couple clients of other consignors come up to me and say they’ve never had a sale like they had here and they were quite happy.”

In the first two days, the Black Book Sale grossed $29,913,000 from 497 yearlings for an average of $60,187. Last year through two sessions the sale grossed $35,750,000 from 506 yearlings for an average of $70,652. That means the gross is down 16 per cent from a year ago and the average is off 15 per cent from 2022.


Top honors from the day’s purchases went to Mac Nichol and his $260,000 winning bid for Hip #346, a colt buy Sweet Lou named Glowing Lou. He is out of the Somebeachsomewhere mare Teenybopper, whose dam is world champion and double millionaire Glowing Report.

“Doc [Ian Moore] saw him first and said for me to check him out, so I went and watched the video and I liked the video,” Nichol said. “I came and looked at him and loved everything about him. He’s a nice, big colt and I was quite impressed with him. He looks the part. He looks so racey-looking in his video.

“I’ve had some of those bigger yearlings before that I did quite well with. Twin B Warrior – he was built pretty near the same as this guy and he ended up making almost a million bucks for me. So, that’s a good reason.”

Bryan Montgomery came just a notch below the sales topper when buying Hip #366, a Muscle Hill colt named Travolta Hanover. Montgomery bought the yearling as agent for John Fielding, Matt Morrison and Bobby Edwards. He struck the winning bid of $255,000.

“We weren’t sure he’d bring that much,” Montgomery said. “Very nice individual, not the strongest pedigree in the world, but, yeah, super nice individual.”

Montgomery confirmed Travolta Hanover will go into training with Lucas Wallin.

A long time has passed since Chris Ryder has worked with a trotter. On Tuesday, he made the third largest purchase of the session with a $225,000 winning bid for Hip #401, a colt named Verse Nine. He comes from the first crop of Gimpanzee and is out of the Italian mare Acorn Kronos. His pedigree deepens with the third dam, who comes from a family which includes millionaires Lookout Victory and Cedar Dove as well as stakes winner Magic Tonight.

“We had a lot of good fillies. I haven’t had that many trotters come into the barn, but I’ve had some quite good trotters,” said Ryder, whose resume of star horses does include a millionaire trotting mare named Mystical Sunshine. “Obviously, I’m not known for trotters, but what can I say? I just loved the horse. I loved him as an individual, loved him on the farm. He had a good video, which didn’t mean a hell of a lot because I met him at the farm in the field and everything. He was a favorite at the farm from Day 1.

“First crop is always a bit chancy, but Gimpanzee was a fantastic horse, so why won’t he be a good stallion?”

Luc Blais landed the only other winning bid on the day to break $200,000 with his acquisition of Hip #404, a colt named Wondrous Blue Chip. He is the sixth foal from the mare Dunk The Donato, who notably foaled millionaire and world champion Plunge Blue Chip. Though this colt strays from his siblings who come from the Chapter Seven and Muscle Hill lines since he is by the stallion Father Patrick.

“There’s lots of pedigree on that horse,” said Blais, who signed the ticket for Serge Godin’s Determination. “Nice looking horse. I’m very, very happy to get that horse today. You can see he’s a classy horse.”


Though one more yearling session awaits for the 2023 Black Book Sale, Welk has hopes for the Mixed Sale, which begins on Thursday (Nov. 9) and features a robust catalog of broodmares, potential broodmares and versatile racehorses.

“I’m still looking for a gangbuster Mixed Sale,” Welk said. “I haven’t started downgrading the Mixed Sale yet, because I’m really excited about it and I think it’s one of the strongest Mixed Sale catalogs that we’ve ever had. A lot of the consignors here, they sell here and they sell in Lexington and they’ve made money and they have to base what they want to do… and what stallions they might want to breed to. There’re a lot of really good in-foal mares to some of the best stallions. The racehorses are in so much demand. [The outs] have been lower than normal, I guess I’d say. That’s exciting to me. If they are going to be here, they are going to sell.”

Both today’s (Nov. 8) yearling session — which features over 300 yearlings going into the ring — and the opening session of the Mixed Sale on Thursday, begin at 10 a.m. (ET).