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Showcasing Ontario's Best

Published: October 12, 2018 9:07 am ET

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Ann Straatman said having the London Selected Yearling Sale the same weekend as the Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS) Super Finals is by design to showcase the best the province’s standardbred industry has to offer.

Saturday’s opening session of the sale -- to be held at the Metroland Media Agri-Plex facility at the Western Fair District in London, Ont. -— comes the same day as $1.8 million worth of Super Final races at Woodbine Mohawk Park.

Though Woodbine Mohawk Park is a nearly two-hour drive from the London sale, Straatman, the sale manager, promises to get buyers on the road in plenty of time by starting the sale at noon and selling just 100 yearlings on Saturday.

She points to last year’s strong sale, which was also held on Super Final weekend, as an indication it didn’t hurt sale numbers.

“I understand that it’s a Catch-22, that those that are participating find it amazingly hectic to attend a sale then go to the Super Final with their charges, but I’m hoping we see the increased audience we got last year – quite a few more people that we don’t normally see that are here in town for Super Final weekend and hopefully participating in the sale,” said Straatman, who is also the reproduction manager of Seelster Farms in Lucan ON.

As for the state of the industry in Ontario, Straatman said she’s heard “nothing but positive” from fellow breeders and buyers.

“Putting on my Seelster hat, I know we’ve had a lot of traffic to the farm every day. In talking with other consignors I know it’s been very similar. I think there’s a lot of interest and I think with a record sale in Lexington that momentum, I’m hoping, will carry over here,” Straatman said.

Ontario-sired horses that make up the bulk of the London sale are still in high demand. At the Lexington Selected Yearling Sale, 128 progeny of Ontario stallions fetched $5,089,000 combined and averaged $39,758. The gross was up over $500,000 from the Ontario-sired yearlings that sold in Lexington in 2017. This year, progeny of Bettor’s Delight, who stands at Winbak Canada, were especially popular in Lexington. Twenty-one Bettors Delight yearlings grossed $1,472,000, total, and averaged $70,095. Kadabra, who stands at Tara Hills Stud in Port Perry, ON, grossed the second most of the Ontario sires with $1,275,000 total for 30 sold, an average of $42,500.

Straatman said she is hoping for big sale numbers a year after the inaugural London sale exceeded expectations.

“If I were comparing catalogues? Absolutely,” Straatman said when asked if it’s possible for this year’s sale to surpass the 2017 auction that grossed $7,536,000 for 306 yearlings sold, producing an average of $24,627. “We’ve got a great catalogue this year, a lot of top horses. I think that there are a lot of those top prices catalogued here this weekend.”

Straatman said she would be thrilled to even equal last year’s numbers.

“It was a fantastic sale,” she said.

This year, 324 yearlings are scheduled to be sold over two days. Both sale sessions begin at noon.

The London sale is the result of a partnership between the Forest City Yearling Sale and Standardbred Canada’s Canadian Yearling Sale that started in 2017.

“Standardbred Canada [is a great partner]. They understand the business. There are some new people, (CEO) Dan Gall and (chief financial officer) Chris Ferraz and they are learning the sale business as we go along,” Straatman said.

“Standardbred Canada has done a great job with the Yearling Expo in the lobby and they are also doing some seminars this year again,” Straatman said. “Pedigrees, conformation. They have what’s called Ownership 101. So there are things geared towards the new yearling owner, someone who is interested in learning more from the experts. I think that’s going to be a great addition as well. It is sponsored again by Ontario Racing.”

Straatman said there is something for everyone in this year’s sale.

“There is every pedigree, every size, every gait of horse for the buyers...and not just Ontario, I’m hoping for a North American audience, but certainly there’s something for everyone here.”

She said the fact the London sale comes a week after a Lexington Selected Yearling Sale that smashed records for gross with nearly $40 million in sales is important, especially for London’s predominantly Canadian buyers.

“I know a lot of Ontario buyers were in Lexington as well and if they weren’t able to get the yearlings they wanted there, I’m hoping this is their next stop for their yearling purchases,” she said, adding that a low Canadian dollar may have had some Canadian buyers saving their money for the London sale rather than pay an exchange-driven premium on yearlings in Kentucky. “I think that is a huge advantage for us this year.”

Seelster Farms was last year’s leading consignor by average ($46,612), sold the seven highest-priced yearlings and 12 of the top 15 and grossed $2,283,988 from 49 yearlings sold.

For a complete sale roster click the following link: 2018 London Selected Yearling Sale Roster.

(Courtesy Ontario Racing)

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