08/28/2008 11:00PM

Asmussen to attend yearling sale

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The increasing popularity of Woodbine's racing program, including a particularly lucrative Ontario-sired and -bred awards program, has lured some big name horsefolk to Toronto this year.

And at least one of them may be investing in the local market at the Canadian-bred yearling sale, which begins Sept. 2 with a select session.

North America's leading trainer Steve Asmussen, who has raced a string at Woodbine this year, is planning a trip to the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society auction.

"It will be mostly a look and see to get a feel for the horses up there, but I could be buying," said Asmussen. "[Ontario-breds] are totally lacking from our stable.

"Something that I learned is that there a very big difference [in purse money for Ontario-bred versus non-Ontario-breds]."

Asmussen was referring to the new bonus plans implemented this year at Woodbine, which award an extra 10 percent - soon to increase to 20 percent - to Ontario-breds.

There are 234 selected yearlings for Asmussen to peruse at the select session, which begins at 3 p.m. A preferred session with another 239 offerings will be held Sept. 6.

The select session presents an interesting mix of yearlings by hot new sires such as Candy Ride and Tomahawk, plus first-year sires such as Roman Ruler, Wando, and Mobil, and established sires Forest Camp, Gilded Time, Stormy Atlantic, and Holy Bull.

Through Aug. 28, the Asmussen string at Woodbine has won 25 races from 148 starters, just below Mark Casse's 36 winners.

"I am pleased with the results our stable has had so far. But I hope we can do better," said Asmussen. "We plan on keeping a stable up there as long as they will have us."

The presence of Asmussen, and perhaps more new buyers, is good news for local breeders who hope the select session can bounce back from a 7 percent dip in average price last year.

The first round of yearling sales in the United States in New York and Florida suffered declines in average and gross and a hike in buy-backs.

New Owner Syndicate in third year

The third annual Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society New Owner Syndicate program, which allows horse owners, in particular newcomers, a chance to share in racehorse ownership at an affordable price, is almost fully subscribed.

Those who are interested in purchasing a yearling through the syndicate should contact the Ontario division of the CTHS at 416-675-3602.

Danny Dion buys Alberta sales topper

The Alberta division of the CTHS held its annual yearling sale on Aug. 25 and Danny Dion's Bear Stables bought the sales topper, an Include gelding, for $57,000.

Glen Stouffer consigned the yearling, one of 131 sold for gross sales of over $1.2 million. The average price declined this year from $11,016 to $9,326.

Ontario horsemen in attendance included trainer Reade Baker, who bought horses for Dion, Roger Fortier, and Harlequin Ranches, and Bruno Schickedanz, who has a large farm near King, Ontario, and bought 17 yearlings from the Alberta sale.