Churchill Hanover sold for $380,000 to top the yearling sales at the world's largest Standardbred sale in Harrisburg in November.
Hours after dropping her 11th foal on February 24, 2011, Canadian Hall of Fame and United States Trotting Hall of Fame member Cathedra developed colic, which was attributed to complications from the birth, and perished en route to an emergency clinic.
The 18-year-old mare, owned by Hanover Shoe Farms, was a champion at 2 and produced two million dollar stipendiaries in Cathedra Dot Com (Presidential Ball, p. 3, 1:51, $1,520,487), and Cabrini Hanover (Western Ideal, p. 2, 1:51, $1,303,790), as well as two $500,000 plus earners in Western Shooter (Western Hanover, p. 2, 1:50, $904,462) and The Preacher Pan (The Panderosa, p. 4, 1:50, $617,960).
“She was just a lovely mare, she was truly special,” said Dr. Bridgette Jablonsky, Hanover’s farm manager, to Standardbred Canada following Cathedra’s passing. “She was a pleasure to be around. She had a wonderful disposition and she will be greatly missed by all of us here. She left us with what I consider the nicest foal she had during the time we owned her, a beautiful, smart Well Said colt who will be raised by a nurse mare.”
This colt, eventually dubbed Churchill Hanover, passed through the sales ring on November 5, 2012 on the first day of the 74th Harrisburg Sale at the Pennsylvania Farm Show and Exposition Center and was purchased for $380,000, the highest bid achieved for any of the 239 yearlings led before the auctioneer.
Headed to Australia
Although none of her yearlings had been purchased for less than $120,000, this youngster fetched the premier sales price of all his siblings. It was the highest price agent Mark Harder had ever paid for a yearling and the colt is now owned by Australians Emilio and Maria Rosati, who have been major players in their country’s Standardbred sport.
"The difference between the men and the boys is the price of the toys,” Rosati said after the colt returned to his stall.
“In many people's opinion, he's the nicest colt (Catheda has) ever had, and every foal she's had has been a quality horse," Murray Brown, Vice President and General Manager of the sale told the York Dispatch on November 13.
Shortly before Churchill Hanover’s appearance as Hip 119, Blister Hanover, also consigned by Hanover Shoe as Hip 11 brought the gavel down with a bid of $350,000 on behalf of agent Myron Bell, the racing manager for Brittany Farms. A son of world champion Somebeachsomewhere and Boldnbrash Hanover, he is a half-sister to another champion, Big Jim.
“We felt he was the nicest conformed and most beautiful pacing colt in the sale,” Bell said. “And he’s by probably the hottest pacing stallion in the last generation, the last two generations. Everybody wants to buy a horse for as little as they can, naturally, but you can’t be foolish. If you’re looking to buy the best, you have to spend a significant amount of money. It was significant and I’m very blessed that I have such great partners that share the same feeling that I do.”
On this year’s opening day, 239 horses sold for an average of $53,684, a drop of 1.9 percent compared to last year. In 2011, the average was $54,719 for 242 horses, led by colt trotter Detour Hanover, who sold for a record $825,000. This year’s average was a 2.9 percent increase over 2010, when the average was $52,157 for 248 horses.
This year, a record 1,162 yearlings found new homes during the four days they were offered for acquisition and netted $16,251,000 for the sales’ second highest gross profit.
PA Breds Led the Sale
Pennsylvania yearlings, however, were the premium attraction, as the average price for the 493 Keystone State products was $32,963, which topped other leading sales agencies from New Jersey, New York and Canada.
“I really don’t know who the sale topper will be this year,” Brown, who has also been the public relations director for Hanover Shoe Farms for the last 45 years, told Dean Hoffman of Harness Racing Update shortly before the festivities commenced. “I do know that Hanover has the strongest group of pacing colts ever presented by a Standardbred farm. You can take what I believe to be our best 20 pacing colts (and picking them is a chore in itself) and I would think that I would have as a good a chance of having a top performer with any one of them. I could let you have 19 that you want and I wouldn’t be even slightly disappointed with number 20.”
"Considering the economy and questions in the industry, I thought it went well,” Brown relayed to the York Dispatch after the sale. “The good horses sold very well.”