The opening session of the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. March select sale of 2-year-olds in training struggled, with the average price declining 8.8% from a year ago while the median price dropped 18.6%.
But not all the trends involving the key business figures were negative during the March 15 session in Central Florida.
The number of juveniles sold and gross revenue rose 39.3% and 27%, respectively, while the buy-back rate was almost the same as it was in 2010.
“I thought it was a decent market; it was good in spots even though some of the numbers were down,” said Tom Ventura, the OBS general manager and director of sales. “I think tomorrow is a little stronger overall in terms of quality horses, so I don’t really want to make a judgment about the sale based on this day. Let’s see how tomorrow goes and hopefully the numbers will be a little better.”
The results showed a gross of $10,322,000 for the 117 horses that sold. The average was $88,222 and the median was $57,000. The buy-back rate was 31.2% compared to 31.1% last year.
“It’s been tough,” consignor Eddie Woods said. “When you have the right horse, they (the buyers) are all here for it. Other than that, there aren’t many people home. Same old song, different tavern.”
A handsome Scat Daddy colt brought the top price of $400,000 from a group of Japanese buyers who declined to comment because, one member of the party said, it “wouldn’t be right” in light of the situation in Japan, where a catastrophic earthquake and tsunami have caused widespread damage. The name on the sale ticket was K.K. Eishindo, which is a Hirai family company that produces model trains.
Irish agent Demi O’Byrne was the immediate underbidder.
A member of his sire’s first crop, the bay juvenile worked an eighth of a mile in :9 4/5 before the sale, sharing the fastest time for the distance with three other juveniles in the auction. He is out of the Tale of the Cat mare Madagascat, who was unplaced in two career races but is a half sister to grade III winner Lindsay Jean (by Saint Ballado), and added-money winners Honour Colony (by Honour and Glory) and Crozet (by Charismatic). Other family members include European champion and successful sire Storm Bird, Canadian champion Northernette, grade III winner Indian Ocean, and Japanese stakes winner Biwa Shinseiki.
Machmer Hall, a Kentucky farm, bred the $400,000 colt in the Bluegrass state. Craig and Carrie Brogden operate the nursery in partnership with Carrie’s mother, Sandy Willwerth.
“We had a very reasonable reserve on him, so all the people who had vetted him and had $100,000 to $125,000 took their shots and then the big guns came out,” Carrie Brogden said. “I’m absolutely blown away; I’m thrilled. Honestly, with what’s going on the world, it’s a blessing he brought that much, and the fact that the Japanese bought him, after everything that has happened in that country, is unbelievable. If I was in Japan at a horse sale and my countrymen were dealing with a huge earthquake in California, it would weigh so heavy on my heart.”
The colt was scheduled to be offered by Bluewater Sales, agent, during the 2010 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling auction, but was scratched.
“Candidly, he had a little sesamoiditis in a front ankle and I was afraid to spend all the money to ship him and for all that other stuff and then have him be under pinpoint scrutiny,” Brogden said. “We turned him out and he did not see the inside of a barn from the time we decided not to sell him until September. We X-rayed him and the seasamoiditis was gone, so he was good to go.”
Albert Davis’ Old South Farm, agent, consigned the colt to the OBS March auction.
“I’m absolutely shocked by the price,” Brogden said. “Everybody told me they thought he would bring $250,000. Albert did a great job with him.”
She added that Kentucky-based horseman James Keogh planned the colt’s mating.
“I’m over the moon,” Brogden said. “I literally love the Scat Daddys that we have. I absolutely love them. I hope he becomes a special sire. He throws a bigger hip (in his offspring) than his sire, Johannesburg, does, so they have more of a dirt feel to them. Every one that we’ve dealt with has had very good vetting in general and a great brain.”
A Street Sense colt was the opening session’s second-highest-priced horse, bringing $380,000 from Mike Repole, owner of top Kentucky Derby Presented By Yum! Brands (gr. I) candidates Uncle Mo and Stay Thirsty. He purchased the bay juvenile through multiple Eclipse Award-winning trainer Todd Pletcher.
The colt, who breezed an eighth in :10, is out of grade II winner Regally Appealing and is a half brother to the winners Mantoloking and Gothics Peak (both by Unbridled's Song ). Prior to the six-figure 2-year-old being offered, it was announced from the auctioneer’s stand that he had a bone chip in his right front fetlock.
“Todd told me to buy him, so I bought him,” Repole said. “I think if this horse didn’t have a chip, he probably would have gone for $500,000 or $600,000. It’s got to come out immediately, and he’s probably going to be more like a Belmont-type horse (starting his racing career in the fall) than a Saratoga-type horse. I really think he probably was the best horse in the sale, and Todd thought he was the best in the sale. We probably got him at a little better price because of the chip.”
Danzel Brendemuehl’s Classic Bloodstock consigned the colt. She purchased him, in the name of First Flight, for $50,000 from Pauls Mill, agent, at the 2010 Keeneland September yearling auction.
“Because this is a bone warranty sale, I always do (X-ray) knees and ankles before we come here, and it (the chip) wasn’t there” Brendemuehl said. “But after he breezed, we vetted him and there it was. Dr. (Randy) Brandon and Dr. (Jim) Prendergast both said, ‘It’s really small.’ I said, ‘Should I announce it or shouldn’t I?’ They were like, ‘Six of one, a half dozen of the other, but God forbid somebody bids a big number and wants to give him back,’ so I said, ‘OK, no problem.’ Everybody who came to the barn, if they asked, I told them about it. Fast horses who gallop out fast get chips, and he’s that kind of horse.”
When Brendemuehl bought the colt last September, she was able to acquire him for a modest price because “he was a little bit vertically challenged,” she said. “Ben Walden (of Pauls Mill) came running over and thanked me for buying him, and I thought ‘Uh oh, something’s wrong with him.’ I thought I had stolen him. But it worked out, so it’s just awesome.”
Repole, also through Pletcher, purchased a $325,000 colt by champion Uncle Mo’s sire, Indian Charlie during the OBS March auction's first session. The bay juvenile is out of the unraced Storm Creek mare Eva’s Melody.
“I’m hoping this horse I bought today is going to be the best Indian Charlie I own, Repole joked.“We are just trying to buy some nice horses that can run and we can have some fun with.”
The bay juvenile breezed an eighth of a mile in :10.
“He had an exceptional work and an exceptional gallop out,” said Pletcher, who trains both two-time grade I winner Uncle Mo and recent Gotham Stakes (gr. III) winner Stay Thirsty. “I remember the horse from last September (at the Keeneland September yearling sale). I liked him then and I still like him now.”
The sale concludes March 16.