Only 69 horses were listed as sold for $185,000 for an average of $2,684. That was down significantly from the 114 sold for $716,950 (an average of $6,289) in 2015. As the Ontario thoroughbred breeding industry has struggled to get back on firmer footing for the last five years, so has the annual Winter Mixed Sale, held on Nov. 26, 2016 at the Woodbine sales pavilion.
This year’s Winter Mixed Sale auction illustrated how in need the province is of a major kick start to the province’s breeding industry as the average horse price plunged over 50 per cent in average price and gross sales dropped a staggering 74 per cent.
Only 69 horses were listed as sold for $185,000 for an average of $2,684. That was down significantly from the 114 sold for $716,950 (an average of $6,289) in 2015.
The major hit the breeding industry took three years ago when the Slots at Racetracks Program (SARP) was cancelled by the provincial government has depleted the broodmare population in the province, numbers that were already on the downward swing in a North American-wide horse shortage.
The uncertainty of the future of the breeding industry meant many breeders dispersed of mares or got out of the business all together while others simply held on to a few of their horses.
“The sale is certainly a long way from where we want it to be,” said Glenn Sikura, president of the Ontario CTHS. “We did have some horses changing hands and there were a few buyers, but people had already made some big decisions about selling their mares or keeping them.”
It is not the first time that the horse population has had a negative effect on the mixed sale. There was no Winter Mixed Sale auction at all in 2013.
Arika Everatt-Meeuse of Shannondoe Farm, which sold more than a dozen mares at the sale, believes the sale is currently at a point where the mare population has left the sale with handfuls of mares of a lower quality than in previous years.
“We put quite a few mares in the sale in order to boost our stallions,” said Everatt-Meeuse. “We sold them in foal to our stallions (Conquest Curlinate and Society’s Chairman) in order to help the stallion plus we sell them with a breed-back.”
“But there are 300 mares in the province and some 40 stallions. A lot of breeders were devastated by the slots revenue program ending. We need mares and the breeders need help.”
Everatt-Meeuse, interviewed following the announcement in early January by the Ontario CTHS and HBPA that there will be a Mare Purchase Program (MPP) in place for Ontario residents who buy mares at four U.S. sales in the winter of 2017 (see sidebar) said the MPP is a step in the right direction.
“You have to give prospective buyers something to bid on and we have to try and lure the American buyers. They will buy Ontario-sired and bred horses but they won’t travel here just for those ones.”
The MPP, says Everatt-Meeuse, who also operates Southpoint Sales in Kentucky, will give a chance for American-sired foals to be born and sold as weanlings at the 2017 mixed sale or yearlings in 2018.
“We will continue to sell our mares locally to prove our stallions while hoping to get some return. It just didn’t really happen in 2016.”
Shannondoe recently added graded stakes winner Dynamic Sky, by Sky Mesa to its stallion program for 2017.
Sue Leslie, president of the Ontario Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA), purchased this year’s Winter Mixed Sale topper, a yearling filly by hit Canadian sire Giant Gizmo for $22,000. The chestnut youngster is the first foal of the unplaced mare Bella Victoria, a daughter of Perfect Soul (Ire) and a half sister to Gleam of Hope, a Grade 3 stakes winner. Bella Victoria is also a half sister to the dam of potential Canadian sprint champion of 2016, Noholdingback Bear.
The filly was sold by Hill ‘n’ Dale Sales Agency for breeders Joe and Catherine Peard.
Only two other offerings brought bids in the five-digits. The mare Miss McDreamy, a 12-year-old at sale time, sold for $11,000 to Anthony Russo from the consignment of Shannondoe Farm. Agent. Miss McDreamy, a daughter of Lost Soldier and a three-time winner, sold in foal to Astrology.
Russo recently obtained the stallion Hyper, a Grade 2 stakes winning son of Victory Gallop, to stand at Tara Farms in Niagara-on-the-Lake and has been purchasing mares to support the new stud.
A yearling colt by Victor’s Cry from the winning mare and producer Miss Stuck Up was sold by Sherry MacLean’s Northern Dawn Stables Inc. agent for $10,000 to trainer Wray Lawrence on behalf of Barlee Farm.