An Irish River colt sold Tuesday for an Ocala Breeders' Sales Company record price of $900,000 already has a new owner. According to OBSC, agent Buzz Chace notified sales company officials that the colt will be owned by Raymond Dweck rather than Roger King, for whom he was initially purchased.
Among other horses purchased previously at OBSC by Chace on behalf of Dweck were grade I winner Stormy Pick and multiple stakes winner Max's Pal.
While the Irish River colt was the most expensive juvenile ever sold by OBSC, Tuesday's market was down in several key areas from a year ago at the select sale of 2-year-olds in training at Calder Race Course on Tuesday (Feb. 6).
The number sold, gross revenue, and average price experienced moderate downturns, declining by 4.2%, 9.5%, and 5.5%, respectively. In addition, the median plunged by 21.1%. Nevertheless, Tom Ventura, the OBS director of sales, was encouraged by the results. Besides the record-priced colt, he cited the decline in the buy-back rate -- from 37.4% last year to 27.7% this year -- as a positive sign.
"Overall, I thought it was a very good sale," Ventura said. "Obviously, I was extremely pleased with the record horse, which sold for 50% higher than the previous 2-year-old record (the $600,000 brought by D'wildcat at last year's OBS March sale). I also think the fact that more horses got sold on a percentage basis is important. That's a positive sign.
"With the economy being a little bit of a question mark" he continued, "you don't know how it's going to impact the horse business. I don't think it affected this sale at all. The average wasn't down enough to be concerned. Going in with the horses that we had, with a little lower pinhooking price, that wasn't unexpected."
The 136 horses sold grossed $14,124,000 and averaged $103,853. The median was $75,000. In 2000, the 142 horses sold brought a gross of $15,599,000, an average of $109,852, and a median of $95,000. The average and median that year were all-time highs for the Calder auction.
The 2001 edition of the sale started off slowly. Auctioneer Ryan Mahan had to push hard for bids, often using phrases like "he's worth more" and "there's a lot of value left in this filly" in an effort to pump up enthusiasm.
But as the sale approached the midway point, the momentum picked up significantly. When Hip No. 88 stepped into the ring, buyers didn't hesitate to make big offers for the racy looking Irish River colt. The bidding opened at $200,000 and climbed quickly. New Jersey bloodstock agent Buzz Chace, who was representing television syndication mogul Roger King, outlasted Richard Mulhall of The Thoroughbred Corp.
"I thought he was the best horse in the sale," said Chace, who talked to King on a cell phone during the bidding. "He moved so gracefully on the track, and he had a great demeanor and presence back at the barn."
Said Mulhall: "That's a lot of money for an Irish River. What will he bring if he is ever syndicated as a stallion? I have to think about those kinds of things."
The colt was produced from the winning Forty Niner mare Exposed. His third dam, the graded winner Tuerta, produced champion and two-time classic winner Swale.
Mark Casse consigned the record-setting colt on the behalf of the Century Ventures pinhooking partnership that he and Harry T. Mangurian Jr. operate. In the name of Century Ventures, Casse purchased the son of Irish River for $60,000 at the 2000 Keeneland September yearling sale.
The second-highest price of the auction, $400,000, was brought by a muscle-bound daughter of Marquetry out of the stakes-winning Clever Trick mare Lip Sing. Consigned by Carl Bowling's Straightaway Farm, as agent, the chestnut filly was purchased by Chester Broman of New York. He was accompanied by trainer John Kimmel.