Topped by a First Dude colt bought by his breeder for $400,000 on behalf of a racing partnership he heads, the Ocala Breeders' Sales' 2-year-olds and horses of racing age sale began on a strong note June 13.
From 374 cataloged, OBS reported 199 head changed hands for total receipts of $7,217,500, compared with a gross of $3,645,300 for 147 sold during the first of four sessions in 2016.
The average price rose 46.3% from $24,798 to $36,269 and this year's session median was $18,000, compared with $13,500 a year ago. The 59 horses that did not meet their reserve prices represented an RNA rate of $22.9%.
The session-topper was Hip 199, a dark bay or brown colt by First Dude, who stands at the Dizney family's Double Diamond Farm near Ocala, Fla. A homebred raced by Donald Dizney, First Dude won the Hollywood Gold Cup Handicap (G1) and finished second in the Preakness Stakes and third in the Belmont Stakes, both grade 1 classics.
Currently the second-leading sire in Florida this year, First Dude stands for $10,000 and was listed at $7,500 in 2014 when the current crop of 2-year-olds was conceived.
"We love First Dude," said David Dizney, who bought the colt on behalf of David Dizney Racing Syndicate. "He really throws some good foals. They can run and they are smart. The thing about this horse was the way he trained. He worked in a sharp quarter (:20 3/5) and then galloped out the half-mile really well."
Dizney said he will manage the partnership that consists of "friends who have been wanting to get into the horse business for a long time. We had been waiting for the right horse and we think this is the one."
Produced from the winning Kris S. mare Natalie's Moment, the Florida-bred colt whose female family includes Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Lil E. Tee was consigned by Top Line Sales on Dizney's behalf.
New York-based trainer Linda Rice, the day's leading buyer with four bought for $805,000, took home the second-highest-priced lot of the day, a $320,000 Midnight Lute colt who worked a bullet :09 4/5 for an eighth of a mile during his session of the under tack show workouts.
"He was a beautiful colt at the barn and his breeze was great," Rice said of the colt, bought on behalf of the same Lady Sheila Stable partnership that campaigned champion La Verdad.
Consigned by Luke McKathan's Timber Creek as Hip 335, the colt bred in Kentucky by Randal Family Trust is out of the stakes-placed Giant's Causeway mare Screen Giant, a half sister to English group 3 winner Secret History and to stakes winner Costume Designer.
The colt's sale represented a major pinhooking score for Timber Creek, since he was purchased for $9,500 from Taylor Made Sales Agency at the 2016 Fasig-Tipton October yearling sale.
"He's a really, really nice colt," said Timber Creek's Jocelyn McKathan. "You don't see too many horses like him. On the racetrack, he is just stunning. He's got a presence about you don't see very often."
The session began slowly but picked up momentum as buyers may have had a sense of urgency—the OBS sale is the final juvenile sale of the season.
"I have a pretty thin list and by the luck of the draw some of the ones I wanted were in early," said bloodstock agent Pete Bradley after making two six-figure purchases early. "I didn't steal them, but it wasn't double what I thought I would have to pay. I think this sale will get stronger as it goes on."
Bradley returned later to pick up a Twirling Candy colt for $310,000, third-highest price on the day. Consigned as Hip 317 by Eddie Woods, the colt is out of the stakes-winning Sweetsouthernsaint mare Saint Knows and was bred in California by CRK Stables.
The colt was bought by Quarter Pole Enterprises for $90,000 out of the Havens Bloodstock Agency consignment to last year's Barretts October yearling sale.
Bradley said the June sale was not unlike others throughout the year, where the quality lots stand out.
"I would say 5-8% of the horses here are as nice as at any sale you go to, but it drops off pretty quickly after that," Bradley said.
Woods, the day's leading consignor with eight sold for $1,052,500, concurred with the selectivity of the market.
"It's the same old story," the Florida horseman said. "There are people for the real nice horses and after that it's a bit of a struggle."
Rice, who shopped the previous 2-year-old in training sales this year, said she particularly found it to be a good marketplace in which to buy.
"We have been at every 2-year-old sale this year and the quality has been good throughout," Rice said, adding, "the competition has been pretty thin here."
Lexington-based agent Alistair Roden said the June sale represents a buying opportunity since many consignors have lower expectations for their offerings and because the sale has lost some of its buyer base.
"A lot of people have kind of given up on this sale and don't come here," Roden said. "There is good value because a lot of people overlook this sale and a lot of consignors are not as bullish with their reserves. You almost have to work twice as hard to sieve through to get to the good ones."
The auction in Ocala, Fla. concludes Wednesday with a session that begins at 10:30 a.m. EDT.