08/30/2013 1:13PM

Canadian-breds in the spotlight at CTHS sale


Breeders and consignors throughout Ontario will be offering some of the top Canadian-bred yearlings Sept. 3 and 7 at the Canadian premier yearling sale at Woodbine, and they all hope the market rebounds from a year ago.

The Ontario horse-racing industry was rocked in the spring of 2012, when the Slots at Racetracks program was canceled as part of an Ontario Lottery and Gaming overhaul. That entity cut $345 million in annual funding, much of which went to purses and participants in the racing industry, affecting all breeds, including Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds.

By the time the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society’s Ontario division held its 2012 yearling sale at Woodbine, the industry was in chaos, and many owners and breeders were set to cut back on the number of horses they owned or were prepared to leave the business entirely.

The sale suffered, with a 21 percent drop in average price at the select session and an alarming 50 percent decrease in average at the open session.

One year later, the Ontario horse-racing climate is on slightly firmer ground, as the province’s new premier, Kathleen Wynne, has vowed to keep the industry in the fold of the OLG’s gaming expansion, and Thoroughbred racing at Woodbine this year has had strong business. The industry was granted subsidies for purses at tracks, and that has helped horsepeople continue with their livelihood.

“We should be far better off than last year,” said Glenn Sikura, president of the Ontario division of the CTHS and the owner of Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms in Aurora, Ontario, which has a consignment at the sale.

“Last year, we really did not know what we were going to have [as far as an industry],” he said. “We had not convinced our government at the time about the work that we do in this industry. This year, at least verbally through Premier Wynne, they seem to see the value in our industry.”

While the Woodbine season was trimmed by 30 race dates to 133 for 2013, purses have remained on par, and strong field sizes have led to a slight increase in wagering.

Certainly, the Ontario-sired program has helped owners and breeders reap rewards for breeding to local stallions, and this year’s catalog has no shortage of provincially sired youngsters.

“There is a great selection for buyers, some 360 horses in the book,” Sikura said. “I am told that physically, the yearlings are on par with previous years.”

Sikura, who held a yearling show at Hill ‘n’ Dale recently, has a balanced consignment of Ontario-sired yearlings and some by American stallions. Among those by American studs is a bay colt out of the stakes-winning Sultry Song mare Singit by first-year sire Eskendereya, a Grade 1-winning son of Giant’s Causeway who was an early favorite for the 2010 Kentucky Derby before he was injured.

The stallion has had good early reviews for his summer yearlings, with six selling for an average price of $70,500.

Other first-year sires represented in the select session, which begins at 1 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday at the Woodbine sales pavilion, include Discreetly Mine, a Grade 1 winner by Mineshaft who has had 13 yearlings sell this summer at U.S. sales for an average of $55,538.

The lone Discreetly Mine yearling in the sale is hip No. 220, a colt bred by Nick Andrews and selling through Cara Bloodstock. The dam is the winning Broken Vow mare Princesssofballet.

There is one yearling in the sale by the popular Munnings, a multiple graded stakes winner by Speightstown. That offering is a filly from the consignment of Gail Wood’s Woodlands, agent, and is out of the winning Langfuhr mare Tashiling.

Three stallions from Spendthrift Farm in Lexington, Ky., are represented by yearlings in the select session: Line of David (Grade 1 winner by Lion Heart), Temple City (Grade 3 winner by Dynaformer), and Warrior’s Reward (Grade 1 winner by Medaglia d’Oro).

Spendthrift entered the Ontario stallion market in 2012 when it retired Grade 1 winners Court Vision and Victor’s Cry to Park Stud in Orangeville. Their first Canadian foals arrived this spring.

Park Stud also stood multiple Canadian champion Marchfield before he was sold recently to stand in South Africa. Marchfield’s first crop of yearlings sells this year, and the son of A.P. Indy is represented by 19 yearlings at the CTHS sale.

Other Ontario stallions with their first crops in the sale are Queen’s Plate winner Not Bourbon (by Not Impossible); Mast Track, the winner of the Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup; and Storm Cat’s graded stakes-winning son Plan. Mast Track and Plan both stand at Adena Springs North in Aurora, Ontario.

The open session of the sale is Sept. 7 at 5 p.m.