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Running Down a Dream
Bob Carson takes new owners from sales ring to turnout
written by Bob Carson

Chapter 3 - The Horses
'You Got Lucky, When I Found You'
By Tom Petty, 1985

Photo Source: Wikipedia

January 6, 2011


Hello group,


Pat asked a very straightforward question, “Where did Fantail Hanover and Mariko Hanover come from?”


The simple answer is that they were born and raised at farms and we bought them at horse auctions. Of course, it is really more complicated than that.


Just like potato farms grow potatoes, harness horse breeding farms grow baby race horses. The better their product appears to the customer, the more money they will make at market. These farms try to get well breed sires (fathers) and mares (mothers) to produce outstanding colts (young boy horses) and fillies (young girl horses). They take great care of the babies and eventually consign them to one of the numerous horse auctions that take place each fall.


Every horse that goes into the sales ring has a pedigree page in a catalogue. Every horse has a HIP number (horse in print).  Prior to the bidding, potential buyers have a lot of research to do. For example; we carefully studied the parentage and offspring of Fantail Hanover. Click here to view her pedigree page.




I know this page looks confusing. I hated trying to read this gobbledygook when I originally became involved in the sport, but when you get the hang of it, it’s a lot of fun.


The first few lines show where Fantail was born and raised (Hanover Farms), her sales number (HIP 225), her name (Fantail Hanover), what state racing program she is eligible to race in (PA), the (exact) date of her birth, and her tattoo number.


The name in the top left (No Pan Intended) is her father. The name below is her mother (Fan Club Hanover). We pay a lot of attention to the mother (referred to as first dam). We are the second living baby from Fan Club Hanover. Her first baby was a horse named Freddy Day Hanover and he is a very, very good horse. It gets very complicated, but that’s enough for now.  


Jim hopped a plane and flew to New Jersey, the site of this sale. He had a list of horses that we might bid on if they fell in our price range. We could also see the horses we were interested in on a video. Click this link to see a shot clip of young Fantail  Hanover in a paddock.




Finally, at the sale, Jim could physically inspect the horse before the bidding.  So we read about her, read about her family, watched her on film and physically examined her.


The bidding started and Jim’s was the last hand in the air. We paid $7,000.


The other horse, Mariko Hanover, was basically the same process of pre-examination. 


Mariko was purchased at a huge auction, the Standardbred Horse Sale. This famous horse sale takes place each November in Harrisburg, Pa.  Interestingly, the day of her sale, for the first time, Jim and I were not able to be in Harrisburg. Jim was traveling on business and I was in court in Cleveland (jury duty, not as a defendant (LOL).  We gave a list of horses we like to our trainer, Marty Wollam, and asked him to examine them and do the bidding.  He did.  And Mariko was purchased for $9,500.


Various shipping companies are at the sales. Once the horse is paid for, they are loaded onto trucks and shipped to training centers. Our training center is Wollam Farms in Vienna, Ohio. Vienna is near the Pennsylvania/Ohio border.


Buying horses is like playing chess, at some level it is not terribly complex, but to get good at it takes a lot of time and study.  Anyone can easily bid on and then buy a yearling. You may get lucky and buy a champion for chump change. But the odds are, the more research you do, the better your chances. And unfortunately, the odds increase with the better-bred (and more expensive) yearlings. You can buy a horse for a few hundred dollars or a quarter of a million dollars. The average range of yearlings sold at auction is probably in the $25,000 to $30,000 range.


So Pat, these two horses did not just pop up. We tried to do our homework and get winners – and believe me, everyone who leaves the auction with a new baby racehorse at the end of a lead shank believes they have a champion.


We will see in about eight months.


Mariko Hanover – age one, December

Thinking about jumping into horse ownership?

E-mail owners@ustrotting.com and we will get you more information to get started in the racing game. Click here to share this story with a friend.

Editor's Note: The views contained in this column are that of the author alone, and do not necessarily represent the opinions or views of the United States Trotting Association.

Bob Carson
Hoof Beats Magazine About the Author
Bob Carson's award-winning freelance writing has appeared in more than two dozen national publications. He is a steady contributor to Trot Magazine, The United States Trotting Association and Timeline Magazine. After more than 200 magazine articles and stories, his first novel, The Voyage of Mess (humor) was released in 2009. In 2005 he produced the documentary film, Touching Home (Minor League Baseball). In 2006 he received the Hervey Award for Journalistic Excellence and Best of Ohio Fiction awards. He has published Minor Trips (Minor League Baseball) since 1991. Bob Carson has owned harness horses for more than a decade, including a stint as a weekend trainer. He lives in Strongsville, Ohio, with his wife, Sue, and daughter, Katie.
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