08/29/2003 12:00AM

Yearling sale benefits from slots, too


EDMONTON, Alberta - Sharp purse increases as a result of revenue from more than 500 slots at Northlands translated into an encouraging boost for the annual Alberta yearling sale here last Sunday.

"There is no question that the substantially larger purses have been a boon to our sale," said Rennie Gellner, manager of the Alberta division of the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society. "It resulted in considerably more action in the $12,000 to $15,000 range this year, especially after the disastrous drought of a year ago."

The catalog had 30 fewer yearlings than a year ago, a drop that was attributed to the elimination of lower-quality pedigrees. This in turn boosted the average price.

The sale grossed $1,176,300 for an average of $8,169, an increase of close to 15 percent over the previous year.

Of 178 yearlings offered, 34 did not attain the reserve price and were not sold.

Gellner said there was one disappointing aspect to the sale.

"The market for the local sires is not what we would like it to be," he said. "It was the yearlings with California sires and others that sold best. This is something that we are looking into."

Eric Prosser, a Calgary publisher, paid the sale's top price when he acquired a colt by Fly So Free out of Sworn Silence for $46,000. Fly So Free won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and was a divisional champion, earning $2.3 million. Sworn Silence was an Alberta stakes winner.

The second-highest price of $35,500 was paid by Vern and Donna Dublinsky for a gelded son of Valid Wager.