09/25/2003 11:00PM

Slight increases seen at this year's premier Woodbine yearling sale


Reviews were mixed for Woodbine's premier yearling sale, which ended on Sept. 6 following a select and two open sessions.

Slight increases in gross sales (2.5 percent) and average price (1.8 percent) on the select side made for a steady market for Canadian-bred yearlings, sold by the Fasig-Tipton Sales Co.

"I think it was an improved catalog," said Bob Anderson, a consignor who is also on the board of directors at Woodbine Entertainment. "There was more variety. It was a solid sale, and there was a good demand for a well-conformed Ontario-sired yearling. Our consignment was 30 percent above projection. We had an exceptional sale."

Terrence Collier, the director of marketing for Fasig-Tipton, said his team came to Woodbine with some confidence that the market for Canadian-bred yearlings would hold its own.

"We were quite happy with the original horse inspections, and that was borne out in the results," Collier said. "The sale held pretty steady in all categories, and you can't say that about all the sales this year."

But while the sale-toppers were mostly offspring of American stallions, the push for Ontario-sired horses was very strong, particularly in the two open sessions.

"There is a lot of strength for the Ontario-sired horses and less so for the Kentucky stallions," said Glenn Sikura, owner of the Canadian division of Hill 'n' Dale Farms and president of the Ontario division of the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society. "I think that's an offshoot of the Ontario sires program, but I would be concerned that people with Kentucky stallions were being punished. I was a little disappointed [that the sale] wasn't a little stronger, but I was happy to see a small gain."

Gross, average increase at B.C. sale

The news was a little more exciting in British Columbia, where the gross for 114 yearlings sold Sept. 16 in Langley jumped up a smart 37 percent, while the average skyrocketed 34 percent.

Racing in B.C. is held at Hastings, which was recently purchased by Woodbine. Improvements at the track, plus the promise of slot machines, have jump-started that province's breeding industry.

The sale-topper was a filly by Doneraile Court-Aly's Dearest that was sold for $55,000 by Tod Mountain Thoroughbreds, agent, to Ontario horse owner Ralph Bodine.

Alberta's annual yearling sale, held in mid-August, also had a slight increase in yearling average, up to $8,112 from $7,126. The Manitoba yearling auction, which took place earlier this month, suffered a sizable drop in average price, from $4,860 to $3,663.

Canadians at Keeneland

At Keeneland's September yearling sale, Canadian buyers purchased 75 horses for $11,419,500. Eugene Melnyk accounted for 13 of those horses and just over $7.7 million.

Forty-five Canadian-bred yearlings sold for $3,520,400, for an average of $78,231. That group included a Phone Trick colt out of Sioux City, the dam of local stakes winner Santerra, which was sold for $575,000 by Hill 'n' Dale for Ted Burnett.

2-year-old sale canceled

The CTHS will not hold its annual 2-year-olds in training sale next spring but could bring the auction back in the future.

Sales officials say one of the reasons for the cancellation is the declining number of horses entered. Only 25 horses were sold at this year's auction.

Entries close on Oct. 1 for the horses of racing age and mixed sale, scheduled for Dec. 6, but horses of racing age will be accepted until a week before the sale.