After establishing a record gross, average and median last year, Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's general manager and director of sales Tom Ventura is confident of another stellar sale when the two-day select 2-year-olds in training sale kicks off March 27 at the Central Florida auction house.
"We have all the buyers here and the horses are even better than what we had last year coming off a record sale," Ventura said March 26 while inspecting horses on the grounds. "The quality of horses coming out of this sale just has to bring the buyers back. We have an Eclipse Award winner in Fleet Indian and Premium Tap who is running in the World Cup this weekend that are graduates of this sale. All of the pieces are coming into place for us to have another nice sale."
Last year saw two horses hit the seven figure mark -- a Belong to Me --Vassar, by Royal Academycolt (now named Garifine) who brought $1.8 million from bloodstock agent Buzz Chace from the Wavertree Stables consignment and a $1 million Indian Charlie--V Sign, by Robellino, filly (now named Imperial Reign who has one win and one second from two starts with trainer Eoin Harty) purchased by Darley Stables from the Leprechaun Racing consignment.
In 2006, the gross sale jumped 17.6% to $31,044,000 while the average and median increased 32.8% and 36.4%, respectively, to $108,545 and $75,000.
Ventura said this sale would provide buyers and consignors with a truer taste of the market compared to the earlier juvenile auctions. "This will be a real good test of the market because there are more horses cataloged and a deeper group of buyers, in my opinion," he said. "I don't know if we can match the increases like last year, but if we can even bump up a little bit off the record from last year then I will be pleased. We don't know how the market really is based on the first few sale, so this will be a good barometer to judge where we are at."
The long-time sales company executive is also pleased with the quality of stock offered at this year's auction. "I think the catalogue is an improvement over last year from top to bottom," Ventura said. "Over the years, as this sale has grown and improved the consignors are more and more comfortable bringing the top-end horse here."
Here are what some of the consignors had to say about the prospects for this year's sale:
"We brought a lot of really nice horses to this sale (this year)," said consignor Shari Eisaman of Eisaman Equine. "We can get more than 50% of our consignment sold at this sale, and we prefer to sell where we know the horses are going to get sold. I think the buyers are seeing more and more consignors brining their nicer horses to this sale.
Randy Hartley of Hartley/DeRenzo Thoroughbreds, consignor: "It seems like all the sales this year have been feast or famine," he said. "The top-end is an easy sale, but to sell the horse for $100,000 has been hard. Everybody is looking for that special horse. We need to get the guys in here looking to spend $100,000 to $150,000. There are a lot of nice horses at this sale. A guy could come in and buy 10-12 horses for about $1 million total and have 40 to 50 horses to choose from. This sale is just a nice buying market."
Nick de Meric, consignor: "I think this is a good to buoyant market," he said. This is a blue-collar select sale where buyers can find nice horses at all price ranges. I have seen a lot of buyers that were absent from the earlier 2-year-old sales. I expect it to be a solid sale with the RNA rate about what it was last year."
Niall Brennan, consignor: "This is a sale where the buyers really look for the real bread and butter type horses," he said. "I expect to see a solid middle market here, and when that happens it supports everybody. I think this is a realistic sale."
Becky Thomas of Sequel Bloodstock, consignor: "There are a lot of middle market buyers here," she said. "And there was a shortage of those types of buyers at the earlier sales. It's a solid buyer base and the 2-year-old market needs that middle market. I expect to see a lower buy-back rate and a broader selection of horses sold."
Mike Mulligan of Leprechaun Racing, consignor: "We've been pretty busy showing horses and our horses are getting a lot of vet work," he said. "I think everything is in pretty good order. The buyers are really astute in what they want and they are shopping hard."
Murray Smith, consignor: "I brought a nice, solid group of horses with a lot of variety that I expect to appeal to the buyers," she said. "The buyers are educated and they do their homework. They know what they are looking for. If the horse looks good, works good, and is sound you are going to sell that horses here. You can get fair value."