A sale record was established for average price at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's select juvenile auction at Calder Race Course Tuesday. In addition, the median price increased dramatically from a year ago, rising to the second-highest level in the South Florida sale's history.
"We had an excellent sale all around," said Tom Ventura, the director of sales and general manager for OBS. "There was plenty of money for the better horses. Obviously, the economy (in America) was a concern. But I think the economics of racing are still pretty good, and on the horizon, you have some potential for some big purse increases across the board. The VLTs in New York are just one of the possibilities. So, there are some good things happening within our own industry."
The 114 horses sold grossed $13,041,000 and averaged $114,395. The median was $90,000. Compared to 2001, the number sold dropped by 16.2%, but the gross fell by only 7.7%. The average and median increased by 10.2% and 20.0%, respectively. The buy-back rate rose from 27.7% last year to 35.2% this year. The highest price for an individual horse slipped from $900,000 to $500,000.
"Without having the $900,000 horse like we had last year, I was very pleased to see the average go up," Ventura said. "But I was a little disappointed with the buy-back rate. The buyers are very selective. They are going to buy what they want to buy even if they pay a little more than they expected to going in. They're not settling for the next rung of horses. I think that's just the nature of these types of sales."
The sale topper was a Saint Ballado colt purchased for $25,000 last fall. Consigned by Straightaway Farm, the colt was bought by Texan James McIngvale, with Florida horseman J.B. McKathan signing the ticket for $500,000. The immediate underbidders were California trainer Jeff Bonde and California agent Bruno De Berdt, who teamed up on behalf of several clients to attempt to purchase the colt.
McKathan said he was attracted to the colt because of the way he had worked over the racetrack in the Jan. 28 under tack show, labeling it "effortless."
Produced from the group II-winning Danzig mare Magic Gleam, the colt represented a profitable pinhook for a partnership consisting of Straightaway Farm owner Carl Bowling and the farm's trainer, Jill Julian. Bowling acquired the colt for $25,000 at last year's Keeneland September yearling sale. The colt previously had been sold as a weanling for $275,000 at the 2000 Keeneland November mixed sale.