Monday, 25 September 2023 21:50

Record-Breaking ASHA Yearling Sale Shatters Expectations with Over $1.2 Million in Sales





“Over the moon.”

Those were just some of the words used to describe Sunday’s history-making Alberta Standardbred Horse Association (ASHA) Yearling Sale at Edmonton’s Century Mile. Previous records were toppled and crushed and left strewn in the straw all afternoon.

“Phenomenal sale,” said ASHA executive director Fred Gillis after 50 yearlings sold for a staggering $1,222,197 which was up 17 per cent over last year making it the highest standardbred yearling sale ever in Western Canada.

The 50 sold yearlings produced a record average sales price of $24,444 which was up 35 per cent from last year’s previous record.

“To be honest I was hoping to do the same as last year where the average sales price was $18,000,” said Gillis, who noted that the average two years ago was just $11,000. I remember $4,800 averages not all that long ago.

“I’m glad I was wrong.

“I’m ecstatic. Alberta’s breed improvement program - including incentives for buying mares in foal - in Alberta is obviously working.

“Last year’s sale was good. This was great.

“People will pay for quality and Alberta breeders are seeing the fruits of their labour.

“I’ve received texts from all over congratulating us on an excellent sale.”

Shattering the total sales and average price are exceptionally impressive. But, the most startling fact about the sale is that two yearlings sold for over $100,000: Hip No. 36 Strutsville - by Huntsville out of the Western Ideal mare Strut My Stuff - going for $132,000 and Hip No. 11, Zelensky Rules, by Captaintreacherous out of the Bettors Delight mare, Luck Be A Lindy, bringing down the hammer at $130,000.

Strutsville was consigned by Kelowna’s Surdale Farms and was purchased by Nancy Retzlaff and her nephew Derek Stout of Camrose, Alberta.

Zelensky Rules was consigned by Okotoks’ Gigi Van Ostrand and purchased by Stony Plain’s Bob Jones for $130,000.

“There’s an excitement level I have never seen before and I’ve been in the game for over 30 years,” said Don McDougall, president of ASHA.

“A lot of people are looking to spend money and they did on an incredible afternoon.

“We’ve never sold a yearling for over $100,000 - the previous high was $62,000 last year - and we sold two and almost a third with Threecurtaincalls, also by Huntsville, going for $90,000.”

Threecurtaincalls, Hip No. 65 - a filly out of the mare Encore Deo - was also consigned by Surdale Farms. She was sold to JJJ Stables.

“If I said I expected that I’d be lying,” said McDougall, who is also on the board of Horse Racing Alberta.

“I never expected those kind of numbers.

“Breeders and owners now know they can make money or at least have a fighting chance with a really good stakes program.

“There were 10-15 guys or groups that were looking to spend serious money. And they were excited to spend it.

“The breeding side of standardbred racing is really coming along.

“And, I still think there is room for improvement.”

Kelly MacMillen of the family owned and operated Surdale Farms which were the leading consignors selling nine yearlings for a total of $428,000 and an average selling price of $47,556 was similarly thrilled.

“I’m over the moon,” said MacMillan. “I had no expectation of that at all.”

MacMillan said sales topper Strutsville has it all.

“She checked all of the boxes. She’s fantastic.”

Doug Stout, Retzllaff’s brother-in-law, can’t wait to start training Strutsville.

“I really liked her. She’s big, strong and straight. Nothing is crooked. When she walks everything goes straight,” said Stout. “And, of course, she’s really bred well. So she’ll have value after she finishes racing.

“A lot of the big shots were looking at her. I knew it was going to be a bidding war. Jim Marino quit at $80,000; then it was just us and Blair Corbeil and Kelly Hoerdt left.”

“Did we go too high?”

“We took a shot. What the hell. I can’t change it now. It’s too late. It’s done. I’ll let you know in a year how good she is,” said the veteran trainer.

“I’ll get a stall for her and get started.”

MacMillan said Strutsville’s sire multiple stakes winner Huntsville, who won $1.8 million and took a mark of 1:47 4/5 at the Meadowlands, is red hot being represented by some very promising two-year-olds.

“Huntsville has always been a good producing stud but he’s really having a big year this year,” said MacMillan.

“He’s knocking it out of the park. The timing couldn’t be better. I think he’ll go down as a great stud when his breeding career is over.”

“And he really looks the part.”

“Huntsville is still very affordable at a stud fee of $6,500 American though I assume that will be going up now.”

A World Champion, Huntsville was voted the U.S.’s two-year old pacer of the year in 2016 and was the fastest three-year-old the following year when he won the Meadowlands Pace in a lifetime mark of 1:47 4/5. He also won the Breeders Crown and the Bluegrass.

Huntsville is the sire of of 10 pacers that have already paced in 1:50 or better including Early Action, who has won over $600,000; Just Divine, who has also won over $600,000 and Max Contract, a four-year-old who just won a fillies and mares Open race at Hoosier Park and who is a multiple stakes winner.

Strutsville and Threecurtaincalls were both bought in foal to Huntsville.

Strutsville was in foal to stakes winner Strut My Stuff; Threecurtaincalls was in foal to unraced Encore Deo, whose full brother Greg The Leg was first or second in 25 of 49 career starts.

Both Strut My Stuff and Encore Deo are co-owned by Surdale Farms and Hall of Famer and perennial leading driver/trainer Keith Clark, who picked out both mares.

“Strutsville comes by her name very well; she’s a strutter,” said Rezlaff, originally from Saskatoon, who is now doing marketing for ASHA after a career in biopharmaceuticals that landed her in New York.

“Her name also suits her because she’s strong and quite sassy. She’s the boss. She’s smart.”

“When we were bidding on Strutsville I kept thinking it was still American dollars. And so when the bidding went to $100,000 I thought that was too high. But I’m stubborn.”

“I watched her walk and she was straight as an arrow.”

“She was born in February so she’s an early foal so that’s another plus.”

“She’s a beauty. A straight, solid foal. I’m excited to have her in our barn. I can’t wait until she races.”

Zelensky Rules, the other $100,000-plus purchase, is by Captaintreacherous who paced in 1:47 1/5 as a two year old. He won $3.1 million and is the sire of 70 horse that paced in 1:50 or better and 353 foals that would go on to win in 1:55 or better including Lyons Sentinel, a winner of $2.3 million and Alleywag Hanover, who paced in 1:46, and won $1.8 million.

Zelensky Rules is the only son of Captaintreacherous in Alberta.

Zelensky Rules’ dam Luck Be A Lindy, who paced in 1:51.00 is the dam of stakes winner Beachblanketlindy, winner of a Kentucky Commonwealth Series division.

Captaintreacherous is the richest son of the fabulous Somebeachsomewhere. Ironically, Huntsville is second.

Also like Strutsville, Zelensky Rules’s dam side is full of black-type winners.

“I try to breed the best I can to the best I can,” said Van Ostrand, the breeder of Zelensky Rules.

“I think I’ve got the best mares in Alberta,” said Van Ostrand with a chuckle, who has a dozen mares including Saucy B, whose son Virtual Horizon won his 12th straight start in 12 starts this year this past weekend in a division of the Plainsman stakes at Century Mile.

Saucy B is also the dam of Stash The Cookies, who is still racing and who has won 27 of his 92 starts including three of his last four - the other start a trouble trip.

Furthermore, Saucy B, is also the dam of stakes winner Saphire Blue.

Van Ostrand was the second-top consignor at the sale selling four yearlings for a total of $300,000 at an average selling price of $75,000.

As well as Zelenksy Rules - Hip No. 11 - Van Ostrand’s yearlings were also Hip 58 Crown The Dragon, a Custard The Dragon filly out of the Yankee Cruiser mare Contesta Hanover, sold to Bob Jones for $66,000, and Hip 20 McMiracle, a McWicked sired filly out of the No Pan Intended mare, Panagler, sold to Brandon Campbell for $60,000.

“I can’t complain about that can I?” said Van Ostrand, who is also a track veterinarian for Horse Racing Alberta. “I never thought they’d go that high. I was very happy with the sale.

“They said last year’s sale was good. This was even much better.”

In another bit of irony, Zelensky Rules’ dam Luck Be A Lindy was also bought by Clark - for $45,000 - for Van Ostrand at the same Harrisburg sale where Clark bought Strut My Stuff and Encore Deo for Surdale Farms.

“Same trip; same sale,” said Van Ostrand.

Luck Be A Lindy was in foal to Captaintreacherous at the time.

“He’s sweet,” Van Ostrand said about Zelensky Rules. “But he’s still a stud.”

“Oh I sure hope he does well. But I just know he is going to be a nice horse.”

“He’s not an Alberta-bred; he’s a Pennsylvania-bred. But I like to improve the breeding in Alberta so I sell all of my yearlings here.”

“I’ll have 10 yearlings at next year’s sale.”

“And I’m sure I’ll buy something else. I might as well spend all the money I’ve made.”

“I did well this year and I’ll see if I can do it again next year.”

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Read 1920 times Last modified on Monday, 25 September 2023 21:59