Niatross, one of the greatest all-time harness racing horses, fetched $1.35 million in a U.S. Bankruptcy Court auction.
The bidders, Clint and Barbara Galbraith of Rodney Farms in Henrietta, N.Y., gained breeding rights Monday to the champion 12-year-old that could earn them $300,000 a year, horse brokers said.
Clint Galbraith was Niatross' trainer and driver during a career that saw the stallion win 37 of 39 races.
Niatross was owned by Saratoga Standardbreds Inc., a 265-acre horse farm in Malta, N.Y., 25 miles north of Albany. Saratoga Standardbreds filed for bankruptcy last year.
Before the sale becomes final, Walnridge Farms of New Jersey has until Dec. 5 to match the offer and gain breeding rights to Niatross, said Peter Pastore, attorney for Norstar Bank, which handles Saratoga Standardbreds' finances.
Under a bankruptcy agreement, Walnridge Farms temporarily has boarded Niatross and has the right to match the top offer, Pastore said.
Niatross was the fastest standardbred ever when he retired in 1980, said New Jersey horse broker John Bradley. The horse set a record for a mile race of 1:49.2, which stood until Matt's Scooter came in at 1:48.4 last year.
The stallion's offspring have won more than $30 million, Bradley said. Nihilator, the most famous mare sired by Niatross, earned $3.22 million before retirement.
Saratoga Standardbreds owner John Signorelli attributed the company's troubles to 1986 tax reforms, which discouraged investors from writing off losses from investments in horses. He said a sharp drop in stud fees and yearling prices also hurt his company.