Double-digit percentage drops hit the first open session of the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co.'s fall mixed sale Oct. 7, continuing a trend from the previous day’s consignor-preferred session.
A total of 150 horses sold for $824,100, an 18% decline from last year’s first open session, where 144 horses brought $1,004,400. The average price was $5,494, a 21.2% drop from the $6,975 recorded in 2007, while the median price of $3,000 was off 40% from the $5,000 of a year ago. The buy-back percentage was 30.5%, an improvement of 1.5% from the 32% of last year.
“Overall, I don’t think there were any surprises,” said Tom Ventura, OBS general manager and director of sales, reflecting on downward trends in most recent auctions.
Eighty horses were withdrawn from the session, and another 30 failed to receive a mandatory minimum opening bid of $1,000. Forty-eight lots sold for less than $2,000, which Ventura acknowledged may have dragged the median down.
The open session followed the Oct. 6 consignor-preferred session where declines of 31.5% and 40% were yielded on average and median, and the buy-back rate was 53%.
Consignors at the auction found the going tough, but some acknowledged the stark reality of depressed sales.
“This is a market for a tough buyer and an easy seller,” said Craig L. Bernick, the president and chief operating officer of Glen Hill Farm, which his grandfather, Leonard Lavin, founded in Ocala more than 40 years ago.
Bernick, who previously toiled as an executive at Lavin’s Alberto-Culver Co. empire, classified the auction downturn as a “market correction.”
“The market will tell you what the horses are worth,” he said.
Richard Kent of Kaizen Sales said it wasn't hard to predict what was going to happen at this year's event. "It was pretty easy to see that this was going to be a tough sale," he said. "The number of nominations was down, because I think people had done their own self-evaluation. And it wasn’t positive."
The session’s top-selling price of $32,000 was realized for Miss Listo, an 8-year-old mare by Southern Halo, who was purchased out of the Janie Roper consignment by Off The Hook, acting as agent for Agropecuaria Unida. Out of stakes winner Regal Princess (by Royal and Regal), the dark bay or brown mare is a half-sister to stakes winner Regal Approval, and is in foal to Roar of the Tiger.
Halo Sun, a 7-year-old Southern Halo mare in foal to High Fly, was sold to Carlos S. Moore for $30,000. Consigned by Beth Bayer, the dark bay or brown mare is out of Sunset Wells, by Sadler’s Wells.
The session’s top price for a weanling was $25,000 given by Don Mattox for a son of Teton Forest out of the Sue Vacek consignment. The colt, which is out of the 8-year-old Gilded Timemare Time Honored, is a half-brother to West Side Bernie, the winner of the Kentucky Cup Juvenile Stakes (gr. III) at Turfway Park Sept. 27.
The three-day sale concludes Oct. 8 in Central Florida with the final of two open sessions.