The Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. March select juvenile auction “will be as good as a 2-year-old sale can be this year,” according to Tom Ventura. But with the world mired in a financial crisis, it probably will be almost impossible to top last year when the Central Florida auction posted its all-time highs of $33,380,000 for gross, $143,262 for average price, and $100,000 for median price.
“The March sale was probably the strongest of all the 2-year-old sales last year in terms of depth, and because of that, we put together an even better group of horses this year,” said Ventura, who is the OBS director of sales and general manager.
In addition, the catalog also is bigger, with 523 horses entered for sale – scheduled for March 17-18 -- compared to 460 in 2008.
The list of graduates of the auction is impressive. It includes 2008 champion and Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) winner Stardom Bound, 2008 champion and Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf (gr. IT) winner Forever Together, and champion Midnight Lute , who scored twice in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I) -- when it was sponsored by TVG in 2007 and by the Sentient Flight Group in 2008.
‘This sale has made major progress statistically, but on top of that, the horses that have come out of it recently have done very well,” Ventura said. “You couldn’t really map it out any better when you’re able to have three champions and Breeders’ Cup winners on the cover of your catalog. If we had this same catalog with last year’s economy, it would be a tremendous sale, in my mind. We certainly didn’t have to change our criteria to add more horses. We just thought we had 63 more horses that were worthy of being in the March sale.”
While this year’s financial environment isn’t ideal for sellers, buyers should benefit.
“This market is much different from what we had in 2008, and buyers can take advantage of that,” Ventura said. “The value of the horses will be good compared to recent years, and many of the racing purses aren’t any lower than they have been, so I think there will be a real opportunity for people interested in buying horses. We’ve had our representatives on the road – in California, in Louisiana, and in Miami –to get our catalogs in people’s hands and to make sure they are aware of the quality that has been through the sale ring ihere n the past and the quality that we feel we have for this sale.”
Consignor Nick de Meric believes the market at the March sale will be similar to that seen at this year’s other juvenile auctions, where downturns in key business figures often have been 20% or more.
“I’m expecting more of the same,” he said. “There probably will be somewhere around a 30% dip in the average or something close to it. I would be delighted if it’s less, and I would be disappointed if it’s much more. The March sale does have the advantage of attracting a wide variety of buyers from a wide variety of places, but there also will be a few more horses to absorb, so it needs to attract at lot of people.”
The sale begins at 11 a.m. (EDT) each day.