Downturns were recorded in four major statistical categories during the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's winter mixed sale, which was conducted Jan. 15-18 in Central Florida. Compared to 2000's figures, the number sold fell by 5.9% and gross revenue decreased by 27.8%. In addition, the average price and median price suffered declines of 23.2% and 23.6%, respectively.
Tom Ventura, the general manager and director of sales for OBS, cited the weakening American economy as a possible factor in the setbacks. He also offered other theories:
"It's expensive to raise horses these days, so people are willing to pay only so much for the middle to lower end mares. Last year, there were about 1,800 (lots) in our October sale and more than 5,000 in the Keeneland November sale. A lot of horses changed hands back then, so maybe, at some point, it's a supply thing.
"However," Ventura added, "the market here in January was not down in total. On the first day, a horse bought back for $50,000 last October brought $67,000. A daughter of Notebook sold on the second day for $105,000, which I thought was a fair price."
In all, 683 horses were sold this year for gross revenue of $5,393,400, an average of $7,897, and a median of $4,200. Not included in those results was a package of seven shares in the stallion Piccolino, which brought $1,000. In 2000, the 726 horses sold grossed $7,465,600 and averaged $10,283. The median was $5,500. In addition, seven stallion shares sold for $14,900 in all and averaged $2,129.
The 2001 buy-back rate was 30.8%, with 304 of the 987 horses offered failing to find new homes. That was a significant upswing from last year's rate of 25.4%.
The 332 broodmares sold in 2001 averaged $8,685, a 23.1% decrease from 2000's average of $11,295 for 336 mares. The 304 yearlings sold averaged $7,175, which represented a 28.6% decrease from last year's average of $10,049 for 326 yearlings.
Backatem, a broodmare prospect, brought the sale's top price for an individual horse of $105,000. Consigned by Summerfield, as agent, she was purchased by the Adena Springs operation of Frank Stronach.
A 4-year-old daughter of Notebook, Backatem was produced from the unraced Deputy Minister mare Deputy's Mistress. Backatem captured the 1999 Three Ring Stakes at Calder Race Course and finished third in the Judy's Red Shoes Stakes at the same track.
The sale's top-priced yearling, a son of Notebook, was sold by Cardinal Hill Farm, agent, to Journeyman Bloodstock, agent, for $50,000. The colt was produced from the 21-year-old winning Transworld mare Wancha, who finished third in the 1983 Sailor Princess Stakes at Belmont Park. He is a half-brother to multiple graded stakes winner Isitingood, who earned $1,219,430. For a short time in 1997, Isitingood held the world record at a mile (on grass). Added-money events won by the son of Crusader Sword included the Fayette Stakes (gr. II), Clark Handicap (gr. III), and Longacres Mile (gr. III) in 1996 and the New Orleans Handicap (gr. III) in 1997. For a short time in 1997, Isitingood held the world record for a mile (on grass).