The Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. March select sale of 2-year-olds in training was one to savor in a marketplace that has been hit hard by an American recession and a global financial crisis. The average and median prices rose while the buy-back rate dropped. Here’s what some of the participants had to say about the auction, which was conducted in Central Florida March 16 and 17:
Dean De Renzo, Hartley/De Renzo Thoroughbreds: “It was a good, solid sale, and I felt that it was going to be that way going into the sale. We had nine horses and we showed all nine, so that was a good feeling. Because the buyers were looking at all our horses, I knew it wasn’t going to be feast or famine, and the horses ended up selling for what they were worth.
“People are kind of used to it (the bad economy), and they’ve made their decisions about where they want to be in life and what they want to enjoy their money with. They’ve stopped being scared and said, ‘You know what, we only live once. This is how its going to be for the next few years, so let’s just enjoy it if we can.’ They find their level, so to speak. They feel more comfortable, and they’ve adjusted to it.
“I’ve asked real estate people about how are things going, and they said, ‘Busier, getting better.’ A good friend of mine is a high-end builder here and he said, ‘You know what, we’ve picked up tremendously.’ I think we’re seeing that trickle down right here to the horses.”
Randy Hartley, Hartley/De Renzo Thoroughbreds: “It’s a nice market when you have buyers all across the board, which is what we’re lacking at the other sales. We had vet work on every horse in the barn. There are new people here. We sold a horse to a guy from Mongolia.
“We didn’t have as much invested in our horses this year just because we weren’t sure about the market and if we wanted to jump in there and buy a bunch of $300,000 and $400,000 horses. We tried to find nice horses in a price range where we could sell them and make money. I gave $25,000 for my Tiznow filly (as a yearling) She was skinny and scrawny, but she grew up to be nice, and she brought $175,000. That’s good money. If I can do that 10 times, I can keep my farm going.”
George Isaacs, Bridlewood Farm: “I thought it was fair trade. I predicted it would be as solid as it was because of the lower numbers (in the sale catalog). Supply and demand worked in the consignors’ favor.
“There was a good representation of different buying groups here. There were West Coast trainers and East Coast trainers and some new faces. It looked like a good cross section. The economy is starting to pick up a little bit and people are realizing that maybe we’re out of the woods and they’re willing to spend a little money. The pinhookers are making money, so they’re going to go back into the yearling market later this year and reinvest, which is going to be a good thing. Pinhookers are a big part of the yearling market.”
Robert Harris, Harris Training Center: “I thought it was a really good sale. At the end of the day, most of the horses were getting sold. When you have a 2-year-old sale and the buy-back rate is under 30%, that’s great. It means there is a lot of trade getting done. We were very pleased. For the horses that performed and ‘stood up’ on their physicals, there were a lot of people shopping for them.
“Sellers are getting a little bit more in tune with the market. The supply has been way, way more than the demand, but now, I think it’s starting to level out some. I still definitely think we’ve got a ways to go.”
Eddie Woods, consignor: “You could get horses sold; there were people here to buy them. Up until mid-morning yesterday (the morning the sale started), it had a very lukewarm, tepid feel to it and all of a sudden, vets showed up and people started looking at horses.
“Last year was probably the worst year we’ve ever been through and things are recovering slightly.You actually are getting a little bit of a positive feel about things, which is very good.”
Mike O’Farrell, OBS chairman and president and general manager of Ocala Stud : “There were a lot of buyers here, and there were some people here you don’t normally see. Horses in all ranges were selling, which was good. The average didn’t go through the roof, but that was OK. Horses were getting sold, and that’s the name of the game. Obviously the economy had something to do with it. Maybe the financial crisis isn’t behind us, but it has certainly leveled off. People have a little more optimisim today than they did a year ago, thank goodness.
Jerry Bailey, Jerry Bailey Sales Agency: “I think it’s the first bright spot in a sale in our industry that we’ve seen for a while. I’m not over the moon, but it looks like the market has bottomed out and it’s coming back a little bit. We had a lot of interest in the horses in our barn. We had one that didn’t sell in the ring and someone came to the barn and bought it immediately afterward.
Mark Casse, trainer: “It’s a pretty good sale. Horses are bringing good money, but I think the prices are fair. I don’t think they’re outrageous. Things are starting to come around.”
Patrice Miller, EQB: “The market is, as always, strong for a good horse, but I think it’s a little stronger than it was last year. It’s great that consignors aren’t setting their reserves so high that you don’t have a chance to play. Live bidding is the way to sell a horse. As soon as your clients know they’re live at a price they think is not unreasonable, they can be a little more bullish because they know that it is a true market.
"I’ll be here for the sale in April because I have the guys that will buy the $50,000 horse. I think they’re realizing that if they’re from jurisdictions where the racing is good they can make money with a horse or they can have fun and not lose their shirts. Last year, they didn’t want to buy. They were all worried about not having any extra cash. They overreacted, I think. This year, they’re not going to go to the moon, but they’re also not going to sit it out, so it’s good. I’m happy.