By Michael Compton
Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. officials are cautiously optimistic that the August yearling sale can pick up right where the sales company's juvenile sale season ended: on a high note. The auction is scheduled for Aug. 21-23 in Central Florida.
Following a record-setting round of 2-year-old sales earlier this year, OBS embarks on its August yearling offering with a select session Aug. 21 beginning at 1 p.m. (EDT). It will be followed by open sessions Aug. 22 and 23 starting at 10:30 a.m. each day.
OBS set the auction's start on a Tuesday instead of a Monday to afford horsemen additional travel time to Ocala following weekend stakes races and to provide a longer inspection period prior to the sale.
"The juvenile sales went very well for us," said OBS president Tom Ventura. "Success like that certainly helps the pinhookers. Since a portion of these yearlings will go to pinhookers, I expect they will be active this week."
OBS officials admit it's difficult to clearly assess the yearling market based on initial auctions this season, including the high profile Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling sale.
"It is hard to gauge the market based on what we've seen so far," Ventura said. "At worst, the market has leveled out and stabilized. Our numbers with this sale are inching forward. We have to have a little better sale than last August."
Topping last year's OBS August select session was a filly by Midnight Lute purchased for $110,000 by SGV Thoroughbreds. Woodford Thoroughbreds, agent for CloverLeaf Farms, consigned the session topper. Leading the way in the open session was a colt by Lemon Drop Kid consigned by Beth Bayer, agent, and purchased by Sallusto/Albina, agent, for $105,000.
Nick de Meric, agent, led all buyers at the 2011 select session, purchasing five head for $275,000. EQB, Patrice Miller, agent, was next with four purchases for $247,000. Adena Springs bought five for $204,000 in the select session and acquired 14 for $256,000 to lead all buyers in last year's open session. All told, last year's select session saw 114 horses gross $4,278,000 and average $37,526. The open session grossed $4,603,800 and averaged $11,201 on 411 head sold.
Graduates of the 2011 August Sale are making their marks on the racetrack. August graduate Candy Coded Kisses is already an added-money winner this year, having recorded a victory in the recent Desert Vixen Stakes, first leg of the Florida Stallion Stakes Series, at Calder Casino & Race Course.
Sharon Alesia, Bran Jam Stables, Ciaglia Racing, and Rob Dyrdek's Weemissfrankie, winner of her first three starts, two in grade I company, is on the cover of this year's select catalog. With earnings of more than $500,000 to her credit, she was sold by Summerfield, agent, at the 2010 August yearling sale.
"The select session has a slightly larger book this year," Ventura said. "In both sessions we have a good mix of pedigree and individuals, as well as some high profile sires. I think when prospective buyers evaluate these horses they will be pleased."
Some of the sires represented in the select session include Giant's Causeway , Empire Maker , War Front , and Kitten's Joy , along with Candy Ride , Elusive Quality , Pulpit, Hard Spun , Congrats , and Afleet Alex . Fashionable young sires represented include Curlin , Pioneerof the Nile , Colonel John, Majestic Warrior, Tiz Wonderful, Dunkirk, Old Fashioned, Cowboy Cal, Midnight Lute , and Kodiak Kowboy.
Florida sires also are plentiful among the select offerings. Wildcat Heir, Cowtown Cat , Leroidesanimaux, High Cotton , Montbrook, With Distinction, Put It Back, and Pomeroy are among the Sunshine State sires represented.
"We're cautiously optimistic that the momentum from our juvenile sales will carry over into this sale," said Tod Wojciechowski, OBS director of sales. "We have a good book, the buyers are here, and we're excited about the sale.
"Everyone seems pleased heading into sale week," he said. "I spent all day Sunday (Aug. 19) looking at the horses on the grounds. I am pleased with what I saw and I believe the consignors felt good about traffic in the barns."
Wojciechowski recently traveled to Southern California to promote the August sale to horsemen at Del Mar.
"California horsemen have supported our sales tremendously, especially in recent years," Wojciechowski said. "I wanted to let them know that we appreciate their patronage and that we value their participation in our sales. There are plenty of buyers from California already here on the grounds.
The sale will be streamed live via the OBS website and also via The Blood-Horse (www.bloodhorse.com) and Daily Racing Form websites.
Conformation photographs of most of the select yearlings may be viewed on the OBS website at obssales.com.
The catalog can be downloaded for iPad use at: www.equineline.com/SalesCatalogApp.