The Ocala Breeders' Sales Co.'s March select sale of 2-year-olds in training ended its record-setting run Wednesday in Central Florida, posting major gains that lifted the gross revenue, average price, and median price to the auction's highest levels ever. In addition, in Tuesday's opening session, OBS sold its most expensive 2-year-old filly ever, a $575,000 daughter of first crop sire Yankee Victor
named Yankee Million. The sale topper, sold Wednesday, was a $650,000 son of another first crop sire, Tiger Ridge
, named Notable Tiger.
"It was a great sale," said Tom Ventura, the OBS general manager and director of sales. "There was an effort by the consignors to bring better horses here, and they were rewarded for it."
The 245 juveniles sold grossed $22,563,000 and averaged $92,094. The median was $60,000. Compared to a year ago, the number sold fell 10.3%, but the gross rose 24.0%. The average and median were up 38.2% and 20.0%, respectively. The buy-back rate didn't change much, slipping from 33.6% last year to 33.4% this year.
The results for the second session only were 118 horses sold for a gross of $11,535,000, an average of $97,754, and a median of $65,000.
"The sale was good at all levels," Ventura said. "We anticipated we would follow (the trend of) the other 2-year-old sales by having a strong sale, but I'm not sure we would have projected such big increases. This is a good indication that horse sales are solid through and through right now."
The sale-topper, Notable Tiger, went to Sheikh Mohammed's bloodstock manager John Ferguson. Jimmy Bell signed the sale ticket for Ferguson, who had returned to England after inspecting horses prior to the auction and watching workouts.
"There's always going be good demand for what are perceived to be good horses, and I think, by everybody's account, this horse -- on the shank and on the racetrack -- really looks like an athlete," Bell said. "He's got great balance, he has good reach, and he has a good turn of foot. He looks like he can do whatever you would want him to do. John (Ferguson) was very much taken with him, not only on the racetrack, but back at the barn. And that (opinion) was supported by the price."
The immediate underbidders were Florida horsemen J.B. and Kevin McKathan, who often buy horses for the clients of trainer Bob Baffert. J.B. McKathan declined to reveal the identity of the client they were representing in the effort to acquire Notable Tiger.
Notable Tiger is out of the 23-year-old What a Pleasure mare Notable Girl, who is a half-sister to stakes winners Diablo's Notably (by Diablo) and Notable Sword (by Crusader's Sword). Notable Girl's other progeny include Notable Miss Iron (by Iron Constitution), the dam of added-money winner Notably Frosty (by Alaskan Frost).
Florida pinhookers Randy Hartley and Dean De Renzo consigned Notable Tiger, whose sire stands at their farm. They purchased the colt for only $21,000 at last year's OBS August yearling sale. Prior to the OBS March auction, the colt worked an eighth of a mile in :10 2/5.
"He's a wonderful colt," Hartley said. "I thought he might bring a little more, but at those numbers, you can't complain. I know he's going to the most wonderful place there is (Sheikh Mohammed's racing stable), and we have the stallion. To get this kind of colt in those people's hands is what we're doing this whole stallion thing for."
In partnership with John T. L. Jones Jr.'s Walmac International, Hartley and De Renzo own 29 of the 50 shares in Tiger Ridge, according to De Renzo.