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First day of horse sale goes well

Published: Friday, Sept. 7, 2012 11:58 p.m. CDT • Updated: Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012 7:04 p.m. CDT
(Alex T. Paschal/
Mike Jennings, co-owner of Professional Auction Services, speaks Aug. 3 about the plans to auction former Dixon Comptroller Rita Crundwell’s horses. Jennings said the Round Hill, Va., company has handled 330 auctions the past 34 years. An online auction of about a fourth of Crundwell’s 401 horses began Friday. The rest of the horses will be auctioned off at Crundwell’s Dixon ranch Sept. 23-24.

DIXON – The online sale of some of Rita Crundwell’s herd of quarter horses is off to a good start, auctioneers said Friday. 

Bids so far on the 93 horses in the online auction totaled $200,972 just within the first 51/2 hours of the sale.

“This is not typical because this is not a typical group of horses,” said Mike Jennings, co-owner of Professional Auction Services Inc, the Virginia-based company tasked with selling the horses. 

PAS was hired in late July by the U.S. Marshals Service, which has cared for Crundwell’s 401 horses across the country since she was indicted on a federal wire fraud charge.

Crundwell, 59, the former Dixon comptroller, is accused of misappropriating more than $53 million in city funds since 1990 to fund her horse operations and her “lavish lifestyle,” according to prosecutors.

PAS and marshals decided to sell Crundwell’s out-of-state horses online to cut down on costs.

The remaining horses boarded at Crundwell’s Dixon ranch and at the Meri-J Ranch in Beloit, Wis., will be sold during a live auction Sept. 23-24 at her ranch.

So far, 250 people have registered for the online auction, some of whom are first-timers to this type of auction, Jennings said.

In the online auction, the horses have been divided into two groups. Each has a separate page on the company’s website,

The sale of the first group will end at 7 p.m. Tuesday, and the second group at 7 p.m. Wednesday. 

The first group seems to be getting the most activity and highest bids.

Page views soared to nearly 36,000, while page views in the second group were more than 16,000.

“We’ve come to understand that we can’t worry a whole lot on the first day or two,” Jennings said. “Some might not get bid on right away.”

Jennings said the company put some of the most popular mares, babies, and recipient mares – horses with embryos implanted in them – in the first group to “start the sale with some exciting horses so people can see something happening and get their juices flowing.”

Some bids on the horses only rose to a few hundred dollars, while others have gone to $30,000 or higher.

Horses netting the highest bids so far are:

• She Scores, a 2000 Chestnut Mare, an An All-Time Leading Dam of World Champions and a seven-time World Champion Halter Mare. The current bid is $33,000.

• Sacred Sierra, a 1997 Chestnut Mare, an All-time Leading Dam of World Champions and a two-time World Champion. The current bid is $30,000.

• Pizzazzy Lady, a 2005 Sorrel Mare, a five-time World Champion Halter Mare  and World Champion producer. The current bid is $26,000.

Jennings said that while the first day of the auction if off to a good start, he expects a “flurry” of bids to come within the final hours or minutes of the auction.

“We are very pleased with this amount of activity so far,” he said. 

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