11/14/2003 12:00AM

Woodbine to stop hosting auctions


Beginning in 2006, the Ontario division of the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society will have to find a new location to hold Canada's premier yearling and breeding auctions because Woodbine Entertainment no longer wants to be involved in sales on its property.

The main sticking point with Woodbine holding the sales on its grounds is that almost 300 active racehorses have to be displaced for several weeks in September for the Thoroughbred and Standardbred yearlings to be housed in the sales barns.

"No other racetrack empties some 200-plus stalls in the middle of a meeting," said Chris Evans, the director of racing for Woodbine. "It's a detriment to field size. Nobody's debating that the sales need to be held, we just ask that they be held elsewhere. We're in the business of racing."

The September yearling sales have been held at the Woodbine sales pavilion for four decades, and were operated initially by the CTHS. Woodbine Sales, in conjunction with Fasig-Tipton, took over the sales in 1984. Beginning in 1991, Michael Byrne's Canadian Breeders' Sales operated the sale for 10 years. Fasig-Tipton has operated the sale for the last two autumns.

With the Fasig-Tipton contract having expired, the CTHS will operate the yearling and mixed sales in 2004 and 2005 before it will have to find an alternate location for the auctions.

"We're the breed group [for Ontario] so it's appropriate," said Glenn Sikura, the president on the Ontario division of the CTHS. "The sale does generate income and we want to reestablish our role in the sales community. I feel very confident that we can do a good job with the sale."

Sikura said the CTHS offered to build its own stalls on the Woodbine property but the proposal was rejected.

"We're getting close to running out of space on our backstretch," said Evans.

Sikura isn't yet sure where the sales will be moved.

"Our job now is to see what the best alternative is," said Sikura. "It could be an independent site that we buy and operate ourselves, or we could get together with a conglomerate of racing organizations. That would be the ideal scenario."

The yearling sale will continue to be held on its usual dates in early September and the mixed sale will take place in December.

Once the CTHS moves the auctions off-site it will have more flexibility in selecting the auction dates.

Fipke leads Canadian buyers

Led by some high-priced purchases by Charles Fipke, Canadians spent over $7.5 million (U.S.) at recent breeding stock sales held by the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company, Fasig-Tipton, Adena Springs, and Keeneland. Fipke, who had R.J. Bennett acting as agent for him at the Keeneland November sale, paid $775,000 for Regal and Fleet, a Seattle Slew mare in foal to War Chant, and $600,000 for millionaire Bourbon Belle, in foal to Silver Deputy.

* Bold Executive is on the way to his first title as leading Canadian sire by progeny earnings. A 19-year-old stallion, he has sired 47 winners and the earners of over $2.3 million through Nov. 6. Vying Victor is second with $2.03 million in earnings.