Like nearly every professional sport, the 2020 horse-racing season was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The shutdown of tracks during several peak racing months dealt a blow to the Pennsylvania horse-racing industry, which has a reported annual economic impact of more than $721 million.
Nevertheless, countless Pennsylvania horse farms — including four in central Pennsylvania — have carried on their breeding operations amid the pandemic.
The fruits of that work will be on display next week from Tuesday through Saturday, Nov. 3–7, at the 82nd annual auction hosted by the Hanover-based Standardbred Horse Sales Company.
The standardbred is a horse breed best known for its ability in harness racing, where members of the breed compete as either trotters or pacers.
The multi-million-dollar standardbred sale has been relocated to the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium because of the closure of its traditional home at the Pennsylvania Farm Show complex. It will feature more than 1,500 horses, including many from facilities based in central Pennsylvania, including farms in Wellsville (Diamond Creek), Hanover (Hanover Shoe), Gettysburg (Vieux Carré) and Mechanicsburg (Hempt).
The 2019 auction ended up with a record average of $45,209 per horse and a gross of more than $67.5 million, which was the second highest in the sale’s history.
“This hasn’t been an easy year for individuals who work in the horse-racing and horse-breeding industry in Pennsylvania. But the people at the heart of horse racing are hard-working, resilient and they never quit. That attitude is front-and-center with this sale,” said Pennsylvania Horse Racing Association president Pete Peterson in a news release. “In these horses, we’ll see years of hard work by Pennsylvania breeders and farmers. They’re the heart and soul of horse racing and their story deserves to be told.”