Harrisburg, PA — The Standardbred Horse Sale got off to a record start Monday (Nov. 4) at the Pennsylvania State Farm Show Complex as the opening session set a record for average price and saw its gross increase by more than $3 million compared to 2018.
Trotting filly Gangsta Rat was the day’s top seller, going for $550,000 to Ake Svanstedt on behalf of S R F Stable, and a total of 12 yearlings reached at least $300,000. The sale grossed $19.2 million for 169 horses, an increase of 20.7 percent from last year’s $15.9 million for 170 horses, and averaged $113,976, an increase of 21.8 percent compared to last year’s $93,541.
Other top sellers Monday were trotting colt Take This Society for $475,000 to Diamond Creek Farm, trotting colt Glacier Hanover for $470,000 to Jeffrey Snyder, and trotting colt Spy Booth for $460,000 to agent Bryan Montgomery on behalf of a group of owners and trainer Per Engblom.
Filly pacer Panda Hanover, purchased by Dana Parham, and filly trotter The Ice Countess, purchased by Tony Alagna, both sold for $400,000.
The big numbers in Harrisburg follow a record-breaking Lexington Selected Sale in October, which included the sport’s first million-dollar yearlings.
“It’s a fantastic sale so far,” Standardbred Horse Sale President and CEO Pete Spears said. “I’m sure this (average) is an all-time record for us.
“Lexington was fantastic, the economy hasn’t changed, people are feeling good. There’s a lot of good news in harness racing. There’s money in New Jersey, the Ohio program is coming up, there are new developments in Illinois and even in Nevada. Everything is good right now.
“I had hoped we would do equally well, and we have.”
Trotting fillies, trotting colts, and pacing colts all posted six-figure averages Monday. Trotting fillies led the way with a $154,848 average for 33 followed by trotting colts at $124,851 for 47 and pacing colts at $100,939 for 49.
“People were here doing their homework on Saturday,” Spears said. “All the big-money people were looking very closely at horses. It wasn’t just a lot of last-minute lookers today. I got a lot of feedback all day about how much underbidders regretted not getting the horse of their choice in many cases today.
“The trotters (were strong). If it was a nice trotter, it sold wonderfully. It’s been such a good thing here in America that the Swedes have become so interested in breeding over here, selling over here, buying and racing over here.
“I think (Tuesday) will be very strong. There are a lot more horses on Tuesday that would have been Monday horses last year, so there are going to be some really nice yearlings available.”
Gangsta Rat, by Muscle Hill out of Order By Wish, is a full sister to this season’s Earl Beal Jr. Memorial winner Marseille, also trained by Svanstedt. Gangsta Rat was consigned by Concord Stud Farm and bred by Stefan Balazsi’s Order By Stable.
“She is a very nice horse,” said Svanstedt, who noted it was the highest-priced yearling he ever purchased. “Her pedigree is very good, a good family on the mother’s side, and Muscle Hill. She had good conformation; everything was good. She had everything I like with a horse.”
Take This Society, by Muscle Hill out of Thatsnotmyname, is a half-brother to stakes-winner Basquiat from the family of 2010 Hambletonian winner Muscle Massive. Like Gangsta Rat, he was consigned by Concord Stud Farm and bred by Order By Stable.
“I love the fact the breeder was a big fan of the horse,” Diamond Creek’s Adam Bowden said. “I think when the breeder is behind a horse like this, it makes buying a horse that much easier. Stefan is a great guy; he’s had great success and his families are hot. It’s hard not to think that this is the next big thing.
“We want to take more prominent pieces in some of these horses before they become multi-million-dollar horses.”
Glacier Hanover, by Father Patrick out of Global Desire, was the day’s penultimate horse to pass through the auction ring. The colt is from the family of 2006 U.S. Horse of the Year Glidemaster. He was consigned and bred by Hanover Shoe Farms. Jim Campbell will train the trotter for Snyder.
“I had him for 400, we got carried away, but let’s hope for the best,” Snyder said. “He’s a beautiful horse. The mare is a full sister to Glidemaster. Hopefully we’ll have luck. We got one other trotter (No Ball Games Rat for $300,000). This one and the other were our two favorite ones.”
Spy Booth, the third of the top-four sellers consigned by Concord Stud Farm and bred by Order By Stable, is by Muscle Hill out of Amour Heiress. He is a full brother to stakes-winner King Alphonso out of the family of 2014 Hambletonian winner Trixton.
“He was big and strong, well built,” Engblom said. “We trained the mom with Jimmy (Takter) and the pedigree is great. His full brother is one of the best 2-year-olds out there. What’s not to like.
“It was a little bit more than we wanted to pay but sometimes you’ve got to stretch a little bit to get the ones (you want). We did good in Lexington. This is the first one we’re getting today. We’ve been bidding on a couple other ones. You’ve got to get the ones you like; get quality horses, not just a lot of horses. We’ve been keeping our eye on him. He’s a nice colt.”
Panda Hanover, by Somebeachsomewhere out of Panera Hanover, is a full sister to stakes-winner Papi Rob Hanover. She was consigned and bred by Hanover Shoe Farms. Parham will turn over the training duties to Alagna.
Alagna also will train The Ice Countess, by Muscle Hill out of The Ice Queen for a group of owners. The filly is a full sister to stakes-winners Ice Attraction and The Ice Dutchess and her family includes Southwind Serena, the dam of Dan Patch Award-winner Mission Brief and stakes-winner Tactical Landing. The Ice Countess was consigned by Preferred Equine and bred by Stephen Dey III and David Reid.
“Dana is trying to buy top-end pacing fillies,” Alagna said. “He bought Panda Hanover and he bought the sister to Tall Drink Hanover (Takeway Hanover for $225,000), so that’s kind of what he’s doing.
“(The Ice Countess) is a beautiful filly. She’s got so much residual (value) as a broodmare based on the fact she’s got Mission Brief on the second dam plus the two fillies that have already hit. There is so much upside for this filly either way. If she just does a little bit of something on the track her value is going to stay where it’s at.
“I’ve been blessed every year. I’ve got great support; we buy great horses. But we work hard at it to try to find them too. We spend a lot of time looking, going to the farms. I’m very lucky to have people that support what we want to do.”
The yearling portion of the sale resumes Tuesday at 10 a.m. at the Pennsylvania State Farm Show Complex. The final day for yearlings is Wednesday, also beginning at 10.
To view the full results of the Monday session or the upcoming catalogue, please click here.
For a video recap of the opening session, click here.