Key continues to improve her late husband’s operation

Patty Key dominated Thursday’s opening session of the Standardbred Horse Sales Company mixed sale by paying $750,000
for a share of Walner stallion.

by Ray Cotolo

Last year in Harrisburg, Shaun Laungani of Diamond Creek Farm spearheaded a more than $1 million revamp of Winning Key Farm, now under the direction of Patty Key, the widow of the late Bob Key. Patty came to Harrisburg for the start of the Standardbred Mixed Sale on Thursday (November 10) to continue her mission of making Winning Key Farm a household name in harness racing.

“It’s all about Bob Key’s legacy. I wanted to make sure he lived on in harness racing forever. It’s very moving for me. It’s been a year and 11 months [since he died]. I know he would be very happy with what I’m doing because we’ve had differences many times over the years,” Patty said with a laugh, “but that’s my dream and that’s what I’m about. I’m concentrating right now.”

Patty, whose plethora of husband’s accomplishments includes a 1993 Hambletonian victory with American Winner, received a round of hammering applause for Hip 1052, a share of phenomenal stallion Walner that sold for a final offer of $750,000.

“It was fun. It was a good high,” Patty said with a laugh. “I liked it and I’m having a good time. [Bob] said to me, ‘I want you to have a good time.’ It took me a long time to get there, but I’m enjoying every moment of it. I’ve always been on the sidelines with him, but I’ve overheard every conversation and been involved in everything and there’s nothing I don’t know about every deal he made or every conversation he made. he had with everyone. I was silent in the background, but I learned. A lot of people don’t know who I am and that’s because it was about him front and center and that’s where he liked to be. Now, like I said, I want to make sure his legacy lives on and he will.

The share Key purchased represents a fractional interest in the breakout stallion that sired Breeders Crown winners King Of The North, Jiggy Jog S and Special Way as well as Hambletonian winner Oaks Fashion Schooner. It also reserves Key the right to breed one mare per season throughout the stallion’s life.

“That’s what I intend to do. We culled a lot of mares and a lot to bring in new mares with better records to buy and breed and Walner was a big part of that,” Patty said. “I tried to get inside her and it was the only way I could, but I gave in. I wouldn’t leave the house without her.

“I knew it was going to go high. I was a bit surprised. I had no idea everyone was going to bid so fast and fast…but I had a number in mind and I committed to it.

David Reid, Walner syndicate manager and chairman of stock consignee Preferred Equine, said of the astronomical sale: “You probably have to go back to the days of Valley Victory or the days of Speedy Crown…you know, so long ago. [But Walner’s] proven in the sales ring. It has proven itself on the circuits. If a farm wants to breed champions, it’s going to have to have shares in horses like that.

Reid was also happy to see the stock selling to enthusiastic hands, saying, “Mr. Key was a big fan of the sport and I’m glad to see the Winning Key farm team came here and did their job. Mrs. Key was here. Obviously, she’s also passionate about the business, which is great.

Patty is now going through the second year of the winning key recalibration with her eyes on the many broodmares entering the ring for the final day of the mixed sale on Friday 11 November.

“I think our progress is going well,” Patty said. “I’m looking to buy even better mares off the track and I go through the racing mare times and turn them into broodmares. Then with the stallion shares we have and the other stallions we can get, I plan to have a small but fun boutique type farm.


The same year Ron Burke’s speed monster Mission Brief attacked the boys for a second-place finish at the 2015 Hambletonian, Burke raced another promising youngster at the Peter Haughton Memorial named Southwind Frank. He took the Peter Haughton with ease, then launched a campaign that brought Team Burke back into the clutches of a Hambletonian trophy in 2016. And although Marion Marauder foiled Team Burke’s next attempt at a Hambletonian , the colt finished a campaign worth $1,946,693 and an O’Brien and Dan Patch Award for his 2-year-old season.

Southwind Frank retired to stud with Diamond Creek Farm after his 3-year-old season and has since sired five crops with the first field landing in 2018. expanded after Ron Burke reunited with his boy on the first day of Harrisburg’s mixed sale.

Burke made an offer of $215,000 to buy the stallion from a now disbanded syndicate run by consignee Diamond Creek Farm. And while he plans to continue the stallion duties of Southwind Frank, Burke may also be considering bringing the stallion back with a bike.

“It’s like he’s coming home to us,” Burke said. ” We are pleased. We’re trying to decide…we’re going to put him on stud, but I think I’m going to train him as well. We’re in a process – we were just trying to get the horse bought and then we’ll figure out what we’re going to do.

“Obviously he was a champion for me,” Burke also said. “He will only be 10 next year, and he can do anything and everything. I am very happy to have it back.

Its reacquisition of Southwind Frank also continues Burke’s expansion of its racing business from a pure racing operation to one that also generates its own prospects.

“That’s the thing, we have mares we can breed with him,” Burke said, “depending on what state we move him to or what country we move him to, so we’ll see.”

Regardless of the future, Burke said, “Of course he goes home today and starts jogging tomorrow. I’m sure.


Five-year-old Andover Hall mare ID Diana NO, presented by Preferred Equine, won the second-highest bid of Thursday’s session coming out of the ring for $225,000 at Euro Stall SE of Berlin, OH. The mare is out of a mother who is a half-sister to the triple millionaire Mr Muscleman. She is also a three-quarter sister to Dunk The Donato, the dam of world champion and millionaire Plunge Blue Chip as well as Splash Blue Chip and Threepointbluechip.

Only two other sales exceeded $200,000 that day. The first came earlier in the session to Hip 1102, an 11-year-old trotting mare named Honor Thy Daughter. Brought to you by Preferred Equine, the mare is a full sister to stakes-placed Honor And Serve and has given birth to six horses, including stakes-placed Beautiful Game, as well as Breeders winner’s dam Special Hill. Crown Special Way. Honor Thy Daughter went to Kentuckiana Farms in a snap for $205,000 and is in foal to Muscle Hill.

And while many left the building at dusk, an additional sell entry brightened the twilight of the day with a winning bid of $205,000. The offer came from Michelle Crawford for the mare Cantab Hall Unexpected Gift, sold as Hip 1624 and presented by Preferred Equine. Sold as the sixth remaining horse of the session, she is a four-year-old mare by Cantab Hall and a half-sister to millionaire and world champion gelding Spider Blue Chip. The mare sold in foal to Walner.

Preferred Equine led consignees with $3,803,000 in revenue from 89 sales, with three other consignees breaking seven figures: Concord Stud Farm, Northwood Bloodstock and Diamond Creek Farm.


“I think it was good overall,” Reid said of Thursday’s session. “There were fewer numbers sold today, but I think the day went well. We sold a broodmare in the foal supplement to Walner, and obviously Walner had a big day with the stock sale. which was exceptional.

“It’s an honor for people who want the best and I think that’s what you saw throughout the day,” Reid also said. “It’s no secret that quality always sells. You could say that for 100 years and today I think when you see the catalog it was maybe a bit of a mix of offerings and maybe that’s where you see the little peaks and the valleys, but the quality sells well. You saw the stallions selling well, the Captaintreacherous, Walner’s share was huge.

The first day of Harrisburg’s mixed sale brought in $10,154,000 from 273 sales, bringing Harrisburg’s four-day cumulative gross to $54,510,000. The average sale for the day was $37,194 while the four-day average sits at $46,313.

“I was very pleased with today,” said Dale Welk, President/COO of Standardbred Sales Company. “I could have been more satisfied, but the good horses sold very well today and I think that’s a great indicator of what tomorrow will be like. I don’t think we’re going to have a record year – I was hoping and it was going to be tight with the sale of yearlings, but as long as we can stay even or close I’ll be very happy.

“There was a gentleman there today – I won’t name the farm – but he said he would have liked to buy four or five more today, but he has no help getting take care of it,” Welk also said. said. “He said he had his assist maxed out and he didn’t want to put in any more. I think it hurts… there’s just a lot going on. I think the mid and low segments are going to suffer anywhere, as far as mixed sales go. I think tomorrow at the top end things are going to be amazing.

Friday’s session mainly features racehorses, including many of the star mares in the traditional “Fabulous Fillies” block of the sale, as well as other prominent young racehorses looking to change hands.

“Looks like a lot of good horses are already here,” Welk said. “We have groceries in the Matron tonight that go on sale tomorrow. I think we’re going to have a good day tomorrow.

Welk turned 64 on Thursday.

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