Hightstown, NJ — Harold Lee Bauder has good reason to smile when thinking about his horses this week. Sectionline Bigry, Bauder’s homebred two-time recipient of the award for Ohio’s best older male pacer, competes Thursday in the open handicap at Miami Valley Raceway and two nights later the 7-year-old gelding’s mom, Aquatic Yankee, will be inducted into the Ohio Standardbred Hall of Fame.
When it comes to yearling buys at an auction, Aquatic Yankee might rank among the best. She was purchased for $3,000 at the 1997 Kentucky Standardbred Sale by Bauder, his father Harold L. Bauder, and Michael Dixon.
In four years on the racetrack, Aquatic Yankee won 26 of 80 starts and $751,230. She was a multiple Kentucky Sire Stakes winner and finished second to Hall of Famer Eternal Camnation in the 2001 Breeders Crown Mare Pace. As a broodmare, nine of her 10 foals of racing age have made money, with five earning more than $300,000 and another topping $200,000. Yet another is less than $100 from reaching six figures as well.
“It’s a great honor,” Harold Lee Bauder said about Aquatic Yankee’s Hall of Fame induction. “She’s been a great mare for us, that’s for sure. I’m so happy for her. If you come out to my farm and look at her today, she doesn’t look like she’s 26 years old. She’s just as peppy as could be.”
Aquatic Yankee is a daughter of Cambest out of Yankee Attraction. Several years ago, Bauder recounted the story of buying Aquatic Yankee, noting that the caretaker of the then-yearling filly for breeder Yankeeland Farms said the group “got the steal of the sale.”
“I still remember that, and it kind of brings tears to my eyes remembering that young lady telling me that,” said Bauder, who since his father passed away several years ago now alone owns the mare. “Looking back at her career, it’s just amazing.”
Sectionline Bigry has won 31 of 85 career races, hit the board an additional 30 times, and earned $694,337. He was an Ohio Sire Stakes champion at ages 4 and 5 and finished third in last year’s Jim Ewart Memorial and in the 2019 Bobby Quillen Memorial.
On Thursday, he will leave from post seven in a field of eight at Miami Valley with Brett Miller in the sulky. He is 9-2 on the morning line.
Sectionline Bigry has hit the board in nine of his 10 most-recent races, winning three.
“He’s been pretty consistent,” said trainer Steve Bauder, who is Harold Lee Bauder’s cousin. “He’s always trying, he always goes forward finishing normally. He gives his all every time. He’s a good racehorse.
“You can race him any way you want to race him. He can leave, he can sit, he comes real good from behind; that’s always getting you good money. He’s probably the best from behind, that’s when he does his best work.”
Steve Bauder also trained Aquatic Yankee.
“She was an outstanding mare and she’s produced like that,” he said. “She was a little light on the breeding, but she had all the qualities. It wasn’t a total surprise. She was always right there, just like Bigry is. Normally, he’s right there finishing.”
Sectionline Bigry’s name combines the name of the road, Section Line, where Harold Lee Bauder has his farm in central Ohio with the name of Dixon’s son, Ryan, who was known by the nickname “Big Ry.”
Steve Bauder said that Sectionline Bigry is “a nice horse to be around,” although a bit spoiled.
“When he wants something, he lets you know, but he’s perfect to work with,” he said. “He does everything you ask him to. He’s a real class horse that way.”
Harold Lee Bauder expects to lightly stake Sectionline Bigry this season.
“He’s really good,” he said. “We raced him in the (2020) Breeders Crown and he got hurt in the final. We had to give him some time off and didn’t know what would happen when he came back, but he seems like he came back pretty much as good as he’s ever been. It’s just the competition is getting tougher.”
Sectionline Bigry has a yearling full sister, so the family’s story could continue.
“People told me that as long as (Aquatic Yankee) was healthy, they would breed her,” Harold Lee Bauder said. “It’s the first time I ever bred her back to the same stallion (Pet Rock). We figured it would be a pretty good idea if we could get a full sibling to Sectionline Bigry. That’s kind of cool to have one.”