The Forest City Sale at the Western Fair District in London, Ontario has mimicked the ups and downs of the harness racing game in that province for the last several years. In 2011, when the Ontario Sire Stakes program was humming along, 263 yearlings averaged more than $18,000. The following year, when the wheels started to fall off the cart, the average dropped more than 40% to $10,500. The fillies averaged only $8,000. As the doomsday scenario engineered by the politicians was reversed, things improved. In 2013 the average increased to $13,524, and last year it rose once more to $15,294. And this year it jumped again, to $23,207.
The number of yearlings offered has fallen off by close to half since 2011; that is what’s troubling. The fact that the top sale was a colt by Camluck, who passed in August at age 28, goes to the heart of the matter. His eight colts, a gelding and six fillies averaged $33,400. Eleven by new kid on the block, Big Jim, averaged just a thousand dollars more. There’s a dearth of new blood. The landscape will change dramatically in 2017, which is when first Ontario crops by Royalty For Life, Archangel, E L Titan, Betterthancheddar, Sunfire Blue Chip and Sunshine Beach hit the sales ring. There will also be another Bettor’s Delight crop available.
With Muscle Mass, Dewey, and Manofmanymissions having left the province, there’s a gap to fill. It’s going to take time to regenerate production. The Canadian dollar is weak and many breeders, horsemen and owners folded their tents during the equine recession.
The paucity of high end product is also an issue at this sale. Thirteen Kadabras sold at Lexington and twenty will be available in Harrisburg. Seven averaged $40,000 at the Canadian Yearling Sale, with fillies going for $70,000 and $72,000. There weren’t any at Forest City. Eleven by Sportswriter sold at Lexington and ten will be for sale in Harrisburg. Four averaged $30,000 at the CYS. A pair sold for $8,000 each at Western Fair.
Sixteen-tear-old Mach Three has been very consistent over the years. Sixteen averaged $32,000 in 2011; seven averaged $28,000 the following year when the bottom caved and the gross was off by $2.1 million; 13 averaged $18,577 in 2013; another 13 averaged more than $31,000 last year; and ten averaged $34,600 this year. A dozen averaged more than $38,000 at the CYS. With the exception of 2013 he’s kept his average up in the $30,000 range. Mach Three has never come close to duplicating SBSW, a member of his second crop, and he keeps a low profile on the Grand Circuit, but the likes of Solar Sister, Wrangler Magic, Physicallyinclined and Mr Carrots keep sweeping up that OSS dough.
Shadow Play, who had a successful first crop featuring Arthur Blue Chip, Lady Shadow, Skippin By and Play It Again Sam, regressed somewhat his sophomore season, thanks in no small part to Sportswriter. But two-year-old Nvestment Bluechip and three-year-olds Tessa Seelster and Cast No Shadow had good years in the OSS. He averaged $27,406 for 7 colts and 9 fillies sold at Forest City. A filly sold for 60 and another for 58. Eight averaged $30,000 at the CYS. His first crop averaged less than $12,000 in 2012; he made a big jump to $23,393 the following year; last year, as a result of his domination by Sportswriter in the OSS, he fell back 33% to $15,556. Bettor’s Delight, Sportswriter and Mach Three are a problem for him.
Badlands Hanover keeps plugging away. The nineteen-year-old son of Western Hanover finished the year third overall in the OSS, with successful years from Ms Mac N Cheese, Semi Automatic and Free Show. His average dropped from $22,000 in 2011 to $12,000 in 2012 and $8,400 the following year. In 2014 he inched up to $9,200 for 14 sold, with a high of $25,000. This year he jumped 40% to $15,429 for 14 sold, again with a high of $25,000. His fee was reduced $1,500 to $3,500 in 2015.
Daylon Magician, who failed his fertility test in 2011 and has been back and forth, sold a colt for $65,000 and another for $50,000. Another colt brought $9,000 at the CYS. He bred 31 mares two years ago with limited success. None sold at the Canadian Yearling Sale or Lexington Selected. And none will sell in Harrisburg. He’s the best son of Kadabra, who has produced no siring sons. Tara Hills Stud, which stands Daylon, when his off and on breeding career is on, as well as Kadabra, Sportswriter and Mach Three, said their breeding numbers were off by half in 2013. That is showing up at this year’s sales.
Big Jim’s first crop was ok; his fillies finished fourth in the OSS and his colts eighth. Four of the eleven he sold at Forest City topped $50,000. His $34,355 average was almost double what it was last year for that first crop. At that time 78% of his Forest City offering failed to top $15,000, and only one topped $25,000. This time nine of the eleven beat $15,000 and a half dozen topped $25,000. Only two sold at the Canadian Yearling Sale, a filly for $29,000 and a gelding for $3,500.
The trotting sires represented at the sale didn’t stand out. The lone exception was Manofmanymissions, the sire of Bluegrass and ISS winner, Celebrity Eventsy. He stood in Ontario for two years, before relocating to Ohio. This is his last Ontario crop. A half dozen averaged $30,750, with a high of $63,000 and all but one topping $20,000.