The first open session of the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. (OBS) August yearling sale generated solid numbers Tuesday in Central Florida. The median of $8,000 was the same as in the comparable session a year ago while the gross revenue and average price suffered only small declines.
"These are good numbers, and we'll just see if we can keep this up for the next three days (of open sessions) ," said Tom Ventura, the OBS general manager and director of sales. "We're selling a lot of horses, and the prices are very comparable to last year. It's hard to evaluate the open portion of the sale just off of one day, but if stays like this, we'll be very pleased. There's still money here for the right horse, and we still have some participation from overseas. (Pinhooker) Con Marnane, from Ireland, is a new buyer, and so is Jamie Railton from England."
OBS reported that the 218 yearlings sold grossed $2,856,600 and averaged $13,104. Compared to last year, when 216 horses were sold, the gross fell 3.0% from $2,943,600 and the average declined 3.8% from $13,628. The buy-back rate dropped from 24.5% in 2006 to 21.6% this year.
"It went well," said Lynne Martin Boutte. "I'm an optimistic person, but a month ago I was very pessimistic, and now it's gone better than I expected. I think we had a solid group of horses today and even the inexpensive horses brought a little more than I had anticipated.
"I have a client who is having a reduction," she continued. "He had a terrible 2-year-old selling season, and he's getting as much or more for his yearlings than he got for his 2-year-olds; he's very happy. I've sold a couple of horses to the Koreans; I've sold a couple of horses to pinhookers; I've sold a couple of horses to racehorse people, so there is a broad market here."
A Sky Classic filly brought the session's top price of $82,000 from a group headed by bloodstock agent Richard Galpin of Newmarket International and British trainer John Best. She is out of the 9-year-old winning Smart Strike mare Rainbow Strike, and her second dam is the stakes winner Fluffkins. Another member of the dark bay or brown yearling's family is French stakes winner Seaton Delaval.
Best said prior to the auction that he and racing journalist and professional gambler Dave Levison "are putting together a syndicate to buy horses and race them with a view to selling them within two years. We've done it on a smaller scale in the past," he added, "and we've made a profit every year on our 2- and 3-year-olds. We're also looking for other horses as well for individual owners such as John Gryffin."
Richard Kent of Kaizen Sales consigned the session topper for her breeder, Marilyn McMaster. The breeder and her husband, Rolland, own McMaster Farm near Ocala.
I'm thrilled," "said Kent of the price. "She was the whale instead of the minnow for a change. She's a big, stretchy filly that I felt really confident that the people who wanted a horse to race would really like. Maybe she isn't the kind to go down the lane in :10 flat in March, but she is a really nice racing prospect and a very athletic filly. They (Best and Galpin) were on her from the get-go. She's going to England."
The session's top-priced colt was an $80,000 son of Essence of Dubai out of the 9-year-old winning Country Pine mare Radyla. Art and Stephanie Preston's Oxbow Racing bought the colt from Perrone Sales, agent.
Through the first two days of the sale, OBS has sold 385 yearlings for a gross of $12,536,100 and an average of $32,561. Last year, at the same point, 392 horses had been sold for a gross of $13,371,100 and an average of $34,110.
The auction, which started Monday with a select session, continues through Friday, with selling beginning at 11 a.m. (EDT) each day.