08/29/2016 9:50AM

Ontario yearling sale offers incentives to buyers

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario – In an effort to increase activity at the Canadian Premier Yearling Sale, the Ontario division of the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society has introduced a number of incentives for buyers at Thursday’s sale, including cash prizes, sale credits, stallion seasons, and free training days.

The sale at the Woodbine Sales Pavilion has 280 yearlings cataloged, 19 fewer than last year’s sale.

Yvonne Schwabe, sales chair for the CTHS Ontario division, said the idea for the incentives came from owner Robert Dabdoub.

“He came to us early in the summer and suggested what he felt would help boost our sale,” she said. “We certainly entertained his idea, and he wanted to pursue it, so we gave him the green light and let him pursue it. It has really grown a lot larger than we thought it was going to be.”

As it stands, there is more than $100,000 in cash and other incentives available. Schwabe said last week that the list of incentives was still being fine-tuned, but reaction has been mostly positive. However, Schwabe said there have been issues surrounding the free training days offered by several Woodbine trainers.

“The complimentary training has caused a little bit of controversy,” she said. “I personally think it’s a very generous offer from the trainers, and they all did it with good intentions to give back to our sale, but there are some people that are somewhat mixed about it.”

All buyers of yearlings will be entered into a draw for the prizes at the conclusion of the sale. In addition to the incentives, Woodbine has guaranteed that four races will be restricted to 2016 yearling sale graduates next season. Those races will carry a minimum purse of $45,000 each.

While the sale will be completed in one day for the second consecutive year, the scheduling of the sale is different from last year. The sale will be conducted the day after Canadian Millions Sales Stakes Day at Woodbine, and the sale has been moved ahead of Labor Day weekend.

“We found we were losing a lot of people because it was the last long weekend,” Schwabe said. “It is midweek, but most of the buyers have trainers shopping for them. It’s a quiet week in that there’s no interference from racing except for Fort Erie on Tuesday. We believe it’s going to be a positive move.”

Schwabe said changes made to the Ontario-sired racing program by Woodbine in the spring could have a negative impact on the sale since more than 70 percent of the catalog consists of Ontario-sired horses.

“When Woodbine changed the Ontario-sired program, it created quite a spiral of negativity,” she said. “People expected the sale to be very disappointing. However, people have said they’re showing up, and my belief is people will be there. Maybe I’m being optimistic, but I feel like I have to be. There are some nice horses, and we always sell some good horses out of our sale. Recently, we’ve had Brooklynsway and Lexie Lou, and they’re competitive south of the border as well.”

The sale begins at noon Eastern.