Frank Stronach likes to conduct a sale of 2-year-olds in training his way. And that strategy appears to be paying off for the racetrack mogul, who is one of North America's top breeders and owners.
Prices rose at the second annual Adena Springs juvenile auction. Once again, the sale was held under a big white tent at Stronach's Adena Springs South near Ocala, Fla. Buyers sat on bales of straw and dined on picnic-style food.
The 62 horses sold grossed $1,947,500 and averaged $31,411. Compared to a year ago, the number sold was up by 55.0%. The gross and average increased by 106.0% and 32.9%, respectively. In 2002, the 40 sold grossed $945,500 and averaged $23,638.
The buy-back rate was 17.3%, with only 13 of the 75 horses offered failing to find new homes. In 2002, 58 of the 68 horses offered had minimum bid requirements that were made public. Twenty-eight (48.3%) of the 58 were bought back. The rest were offered without reserves. This year, there were reserves on some horses, but the amounts were not announced.
The Ocala Breeders' Sales Company provided auctioneers, bid spotters, and other personnel for the auction.
"I think the sale went quite well," Stronach said. "There were a few nice horses, and they brought nice prices. Some were not quite as good-looking or not quite as fashionable. So, I think it was a fair market."
Stronach said he wasn't really worried that the war with Iraq, which started on Wednesday, or the nation's economic woes would affect the auction negatively "because horse people, if they know there is a good horse someplace, they find their way."
Last year, there were no seven-figure prices. This year, four horses sold for $100,000 or more. A Boston Harbor colt and a Touch Gold filly named Just Touching each brought $120,000 to top the sale.
Francis McDonnell, the owner of Cimarron Farm near Ocala, purchased the Boston Harbor colt, which was produced from the stakes winner Belle's Appeal, a 7-year-old daughter Valid Appeal.
"We liked the looks of the horse; we liked his breeding," McDonnell said. "And I'm from Boston."
Trainer Linda Rice, acting behalf of the Trackmen Golf Club Stable, bought Just Touching. The filly's 10-year-old dam, Little Miss Fast (by Premiership), captured the Comely Stakes (gr. III).
"I actually trained her mother, and she looks a lot like her mother," Rice said. "Obviously, Touch Gold is a very hot and up-and-coming stallion. I was excited about getting her."
Under tack shows were conducted before the auction, but none of the horses worked. They just galloped.
"We do this on purpose," Stronach said. "We train them the same as every one of our horses. I don't believe that they should work that fast. That won't change."
However, according to OBS director of sales and general manager Tom Ventura, the horses galloped faster this year than they did in 2002.
"I think that gave the buyers a better opportunity to see how the horses moved, and that was an improvement," Ventura said. "I also think they (Stronach and his Adena Springs staff) also had a better complement of horses by their top stallions like Touch Gold and Awesome Again to go with the other horses."
"They don't have facility that was built for sales, and they do a terrific job getting this sale organized," Ventura added. "A lot of credit for the success goes to them."