08/14/2008 11:00PM

Sellers looking for market rebound


It was the middle market that provided the strength for last year's selected session of the Canadian-bred yearling sale, held by the Ontario division of the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society.

This year, breeders and consignors are hoping for a big boost in buyer power to bolster the overall market and help the auction rebound from last year's dips in gross and average price.

While the median price last year jumped 18 percent from $27,000 to $32,000 for the selected session, the average price fell just under 7 percent, from $43,000 to $40,000.

This year's select sale will be on Sept. 2 at the Woodbine sales pavilion beginning at 3 p.m. The preferred session of Canadian-bred yearlings will be on Sept. 6, also at 3 p.m.

"Hopefully, a lot of the new horsepeople to Woodbine this year, folks like Steve Asmussen, will see the rationale to buying a Canadian-bred," said Glenn Sikura, president of the Ontario division of the horse society and national director of the sales committee.

Sikura, whose Hill 'n' Dale Sales Agency led all consignors by gross in 2007, has another large group of yearlings offered among the 234 who make up the select session, as well as the 239 in the preferred division.

"There are horses in my consignment this year that in other years I may not have sold at Woodbine," said Sikura, citing the track's increased popularity among North American horsepeople who have flooded the local scene with runners thus far in 2008.

Among the Hill 'n' Dale yearlings is a filly by the recently deceased Vindication out of the stakes winner Strike Me Lucky, plus youngsters by Saint Liam, Stormy Atlantic, Roman Ruler and Canadian Triple Crown winner Wando.

An interesting entrant is a Sky Mesa colt out of Iron Feather by Crafty Prospector that Sikura bought in utero for $125,000.

The mare's You and I 6-year-old, Are You Serious, has taken a new lease on life in the United States this year, with 5 wins in his last 7 starts, including a recent Mountaineer stakes score with a Beyer Speed Figure of 105.

Richard Hogan, who sold last year's sale topper, the Peace Rules colt Burgis, for $195,000, is always a leading consignor, and he has 32 yearlings in the select session.

"I'm looking forward to a good sale," said Hogan. "Really, there has never been a better time to buy a Canadian-bred yearling, and with the huge money in purses, plus the extra money for Ontario-breds, the numbers are there."

Hogan, who will show some of his yearlings at a show and barbecue on Aug. 19 at his Ballylynch Farm in Kleinburg beginning at 4 p.m., said yearlings by first-year stallions Mobil and Consolidator, leading first-crop sire Tomahawk, and proven studs like Brahms and Gold Case are just some of the top prospects.

Windfields Farm, which will close down its commercial business in November, will offer its last group of its clients' yearlings. Gail Wood has another blockbuster group, including a colt by exciting first-year sire Candy Ride. Sue Foreman, Huntington Stud Farm, Gardiner Farms, Mike Byrne's Park Stud, and Shannondoe Farm round out the top 10 from last year.

Fairlie going for gold

Owner and trainer Scott Fairlie has dabbled in breeding for a few years with some success. This could be his biggest year as a yearling consignor, as Fairlie and his longtime client Dave Succamore offer a full brother to their undefeated 2-year-old stakes-winning filly, Cawaja Beach.

Named Who's Big Daddy, the colt is by one of this year's top freshmen sires, Where's the Ring, a son of Seeking the Gold out of Cosa Rara, a $259,000 earner by Tethra.

Cosa Rara did all her earning for other folks - when Fairlie claimed her, an injury forced her retirement.

"I had really started to like her more and more and kept her to breed," said Fairlie.

Succamore picked out Where's the Ring, a Gardiner Farms stallion, as the mare's second mate.

"I saw a tape of him plus some of his races and I just went, 'Wow,' " said Succamore.

Who's Big Daddy is Hip No. 384 in the preferred session.