A young colt among the first crop of yearlings from a Hanover Shoe Farms stallion and mare fetched the top bid last week during the Standardbred Horse Sale.
Nearly 240 horses trotted out during the first day of the sale in Harrisburg, when Churchill Hanover received the high bid and was purchased for $380,000 by Emilio Rosati from Australia.
Sired by Well Said and by Cathedra, the young Churchill Hanover was expected to be a top seller, said Murray Brown, general manager and vice president of the horse sale.
"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," he said. Churchill Hanover will stay in York County at Hanover Shoe Farms to be trained and raced, Brown said.
Other Hanover Shoe Farms top sellers included Blister Hanover, who sold for $350,000 to Myron Bell of New Jersey; Sweet Talkin Clyde, who was purchased for $325,000 by Kevin McDermott of New Jersey; and Joost Hanover, who sold for $300,000 to Odds On Racing in Illinois.
Brown, who also serves as spokesman for Hanover Shoe Farms, has worked with the sale for about 45 years. During that time, the 71-year-old horse enthusiast said he's never known a crop of horses as strong as this year's sellers.
"The colts are all so nice, it's hard to pick the best," Brown said.
Yearlings were sold Monday through Thursday, and breeding stock and racehorses were sold Friday and Saturday.
Economy: Total sales for the horses amounted to $50 million, which is a decrease from the $55 million paid at the sale last year, he said.
"Considering the economy and questions in the industry, I thought it went well. The good horses sold very well," he said.
A sale that boosted last year's numbers was that of Detour Hanover, who sold for $825,000 -- the highest price ever netted by a Hanover Shoe Farms yearling, Brown said.
But the industry is in flux, he said, referencing government policies that affect buyers in Ontario, Canada and New Jersey.
Retirement: It's a changing industry Brown is leaving behind, though not entirely.
He will retire Jan. 1 from his posts at both organizations, continuing some involvement with Hanover Shoe Farms.
"But it will be on a much more limited basis, and I won't be managing sales," he said.
Brown said he plans to spend more time with his grandchildren and the wife he married in April.
"I'll still be helping out at the farm, so hopefully that will keep me from missing anything," he said.
-- Candy Woodall can also be reached at cwoo firstname.lastname@example.org.