SC Rewind: The Sale Of Striking Sun

Published: January 8, 2022 10:39 am EST

In this week's Rewind Robert Smith takes a look back some 38 years ago to the 1984 season. He recalls a rather well-planned marketing campaign aimed at selling one of the sport's top aged performers in action at that time. It was a bit different approach and the results seemed to have turned out pretty well.

At the start of the 1984 racing season, about the hottest commodity on the Ontario Jockey Club circuit was a horse called Striking Sun. The then five-year-old son of Strike Out out of the Race Time mare Florida Maid was turning back all foes in the recent Saturday Invitational Paces. From a distance, his picture might even mislead one into thinking he was a trotter as he wore no hopples, and for that matter virtually no extra "leg" equipment at all.

Striking Sun winning in 1:58.1 at Mohawk for Dr. John Hayes. (Photo by Steve Tomboso)

Striking Sun was racing out of the John Hayes Stable Ltd. with Dr. John Jr. doing all of the driving. His owner was Janet M. Burns of King, Ont. Highly successful as a two and three-year-old with earnings of over $220,000, this fine young horse already had a lifetime bankroll approaching $265,000 and was adding to it weekly. His latest triumph came on March 31 in a FFA Handicap event for a purse of $14,000 which saw him pace in 1:57.2 defeating Shaw Lobell and Maple Grove Glen, winning in fairly easy fashion.

Last Fall, on September 27th, Striking Sun established his lifetime speed record in a Time Trial at Lexington. With trainer Dr. John Hayes in the sulky the pair toured the Red Mile in 1:54.4 with a first half in :57.1 and a final quarter in :29.2. Following a three-month absence from racing he qualified in late December of '83 before embarking on this season's campaign. To date in the new year from 11 starts he had four wins and close to $42,000 banked. A number of past performance charts from last season show the now-retired Cam Fella as the winner of several races in which Striking Sun was an entrant. While the racing public may have missed Cam Fella, those who had to follow him may have felt differently.

So what were the plans for this season for the now five-year-old Striking Sun??

On Saturday, April 28th he was scheduled to sell at the C.S.H.S. Spring Mixed Sale held at The Woodbine Sales Pavilion. Understandably he was being billed as the highlight of the sale and was scheduled to parade into the sales ring in "Prime Time" at approx. 3:00 p.m. on sale day. Race videos as well as a fertility test were available for interested parties. With an approximate premium of 25% on the U.S. Dollar it was possible that a prospective buyer may emerge from across the border.

The above ad appeared in the Standardbred magazine issue of April 11, 1984 just a short time prior to the April 28th Mixed Sale

How did the sale go?

His advance billing apparently was well warranted.

On April 28, 1984 the C.S.H.S. Spring Mixed sale was held for the first time ever at the new Woodbine location. The event featured the sale of a total of 167 head that averaged $5,318, the highest figures ever, eclipsing the standard set two years earlier in 1982, bettering both the gross and average figures by a small amount. The presence of a beautiful spring day was credited at least in part for the huge turnout.

To the surprise of virtually no one, the sale topper was Striking Sun who fetched a whopping $135,000 with the final bid going to well known local horse owner John Grant of Hornby, Ont. The lofty price came just $1,000 short of the all-time Canadian record sale price for a mixed sale somewhat coincidentally set by the same Mr. Grant when he paid $136,000 for Jambo Dancer at the fall mixed sale in 1977. According to reports on the day of the sale Mr. Grant intended to send his newest stable member to "The Big Apple" where he would be placed in the stable of "Buddy" Gilmour.

As far as sales leaders go, the horse bringing the second highest amount was well behind the leader as Charley Hanover, then a four-year-old sired by Brisco Hanover, brought a top bid of $50,000 from Lloyd Smith of Mississauga, Ont. He had been a rather successful OSS performer.

I have listed a few more sales results which included entrants from two well-known Ontario horseman's estates as both The Hon. Earl Rowe of Newton Robinson and J. Russell Miller of Dutton, Ont. had some of their stock offered. Both of these well-known gentlemen had recently passed away and a portion of their holdings were included in the auction.

Most I have selected at random, limiting the list to 10 horses.

• Striking Sun - Sold to John Grant, Hornby - $136,000

• Charley Hanover - Sold to Lloyd Smith - $50,000

• J.R. Bright - Sold to Jas. Johnson, Michigan - $28,000

• J.R. Mike - Sold to White Whale Stable, Toronto - $22,000

• Famous Cade - Sold to Doug Brown, Oshawa - $40,000

• Burnt Almond - Sold to Pat Hunt, Milton (Agent) - $6,500

• Armbro Uptrend - Sold to Barry Crowe, Bobcaygeon - $33,000

• Down To Earth - Sold to James Caddy, Embro - $2,700

• J R Becky - Sold to Cantario Farms, Campbellville - $7,500

• Hickory Gig - Sold to Bruce Cantelon, Caledon East - $1,500

Quote For The Week: "Be civil to all; sociable to many; familiar with few; friend to one; enemy to none." -- Benjamin Franklin.

Who Is It?

Can you identify this fellow? Not the greatest quality picture but give it a try.

Who Else Is It?

This photo was taken at Foxboro Park and I see at least 13 people and one horse. If you can identify the Canadian-born driver your task has been completed. No further clues. (Photo courtesy of Northeast Harness News)



This week's correct picture identities were as follows: The top photo was driver Fred List driving New Departure owned by Lyle Grant and everyone seemed all over that one! Fred was a very active trainer and driver for many years on the Ontario circuit. He followed his father Harry into the sport. I have long wanted a picture of Harry but to date still  haven't come up with one. I had forgotten that I mentioned this one other time and sure enough I looked back in the recent archives and I did in May 2021.

In the lower photo taken at Foxboro Park the winning driver was a rather young Luc Ouellette.

First- Fred list
New departure is the horse
Don tremble groom

Second- Luc Ouellette driving at Foxboro Park.

Happy New Year Robert

Fred List New Departure

Ercarl Luc Ouellette

I look forward to every Saturday morning

Fred List and probably New Departure.
Lightning Luc.
Dr. John was one of the best at selling at the right time! Very sharp horseman.

Top picture is Fred List, who boarded at my grandmother's house when he worked for Dr. John Findley at Madawaska Farms
Can't make out the second picture.

Who is it ? Fred List campaigned a good Zip Tar pacer named New Departure, that may be him in this photo.
Who else is it? Jim Doherty.