'Quite an event': Yearling sale in P.E.I. tops $1 million
'People call Prince Edward Island the Kentucky of Canada'
For the first time ever, sales at the Atlantic Yearling Classic in Crapaud, P.E.I., crossed the million-dollar mark.
The event brought in $1.1 million, making 2019 the most successful year for the event to date.
"We've had some good years in the $900,000, $800,000, $700,000 area, but to strike a million … was quite an event," said Wayne Pike, executive director of the P.E.I Harness Racing Industry Association.
Pike said the success of the sale last month and the increase of wagers at the Gold Cup and Saucer and the Governor's Plate in Summerside shows how healthy the harness racing industry is on P.E.I.
"We've set the tone and did something fantastic in growing an industry probably three times as well off as we were 15 or 20 years ago," he said.
Pike said that growth and success has motivated breeders on the Island.
"Those who raise horses for sale or as part of their livelihood obviously did much better than they had in the past," he said. "So it encourages people to improve the breeding just to get a little higher again next year."
When Pike realized horses were starting to sell for more than last year, he said he and the staff from the Harness Racing Association started to get excited.
"At the end of the day you add it all up and you get $1.1 million and you tell that to somebody and they say 'Wow I can't believe it,'" he said.
"It's not an easy thing to do, but we are able to do it on Prince Edward Island."
Pike said he expects next year's sale will be even more profitable.
Leading by example
He hopes that other places with struggling equestrian industries look at P.E.I. as a pillar of success.
"It gives courage to those whose tracks are floundering a bit. Maybe they'll say, 'If P.E.I., Summerside and Charlottetown can do it, maybe we can do it,'" he said.
Pike said P.E.I. is becoming known for its thriving horse racing industry.
"People call Prince Edward Island the Kentucky of Canada and I think we're getting to the point now that Kentucky is going to be want to be called the Prince Edward Island of the United States," he said.