The action-packed first session of the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. March select sale of 2-year-olds in training ended with a flourish after approximately five hours of enthusiastic bidding from a variety of shoppers. An elegant daughter of Empire Maker named Ado, who was the last horse through the auction ring, commanded the day’s highest price of $485,000 March 13 in Central Florida.
Donato Lanni, the bloodstock services director of Kentucky-based Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms, purchased the bay filly for Frank Fletcher of Arkansas.
“There were some good horses today and there were some very active bidders,” said Lanni after signing the sale ticket for the session-topper. “It was very strong. I got beat up a lot of the time.”
Consignor Bo Hunt reported seeing more buyers than he ever had observed before at an OBS juvenile auction.
The results for the day included a gross of $11,877,000 for the 91 horses that were sold. The average price was $130,516 and the median price was $100,000. Compared to a year ago, when the catalog was larger, the number sold dropped 23.5%, but the gross grew 14.9%. The average and median made major gains, rising 50.3% and 75.4%, respectively.
The buy-back rate fell to 26.6% from 30% in 2011.
“It was a great horse sale,” said Todd Wojciechowski, the director of sales for OBS. “The average and median reflected the depth of quality of the horses and the buy-back rate reflected the depth of our buyers. We’re all hoping the market gets stronger and continues to get stronger, and we’re pleased that it seems to be moving in the right direction. The upward trend (for select juveniles) that started at Barretts (March 5) certainly followed through here and it probably was stronger.”
Four 2-year-olds brought prices of $400,000 or more, equaling the total for the entire auction last year. (There were five in the 2011 group originally, but one later was found to be a buy-back.)
“There obviously is some sense of the economy being better,” Wojciechowski said. “I think we had a real strong group of horses that showed well on the racetrack and showed well at the barn.”
The session-topping Ado is a Kentucky-bred half sister to 2006 Miller Lite Cradle Stakes winner Passport (by Pulpit ). Their dam, Trip (by Lord At War), captured six added-money events, including the 2001 and 2002 editions of the Turfway Breeders’ Cup Stakes (gr. III) and 2001 Chicago Breeders’ Cup Handicap (gr. III).
“She’s an Empire Maker from a tremendous family,” Lanni said. “It’s a great pedigree. I think she’s got probably the best pedigree in the sale; it’s hard to find pedigree at the 2-year-old sales. She worked nice, (an eighth of a mile) in :10 1/5 (during the auction’s under tack show), she looks like she’s got some class to her, and she’s nice physically. She looks like a two-turn kind of filly. She checked every box.”
According to Lanni, Fletcher has “a handful of” horses with California-based Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert and Arkansas-based trainer Tom Howard, who both are attending the OBS March auction.
“I don’t know who is going to train her,” said Lanni of Ado. “He (Fletcher) allows me to buy him some nice horses and he gets to decide the trainer.”
Robert and Mary Harris of Harris Training Center near Morriston, Fla., consigned Ado to the OBS auction for her breeder, the Hancock family’s Claiborne Farm.
“She is really a nice filly,” Robert Harris said. “She was a homebred of Claiborne’s and she had never been through a sale before. They gave us the opportunity to sell her, and we feel honored to do that. She kind of sold herself. She did it on the racetrack and she did it at the barn. She did everything that they’ve got to do to get to these 2-year-old sales.”
Harris, who has been in charge of the filly’s care since last July, regularly receives young horses from Claiborne to break and train.
“When they get their yearlings up for September (the Keeneland September yearling auction), they send us a few,” he said. “This one has a lovely pedigree and is a great mover; the market received her well. She’s classy.”
The second-most-expensive horse on the OBS March sale’s opening day was a $470,000 Montbrook —My Golden Quest colt. Toyomitsu Hirai of Japan bought him for $470,000 from Ocala Stud, agent. Lanni, representing Fletcher, was the immediate underbidder.
Other standouts during the first session were a $425,000 A.P. Indy—Sharp Susan colt and a $400,000 Tapit —Swigert colt. Trainer Mark Casse, agent, acquired the A.P. Indy colt from Hartley/De Renzo Thoroughbreds, agent. Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas was the immediate underbidder and said he would have gone higher, but he got cut off while making his offers via telephone from outside of Florida, Hartley/De Renzo’s Randy Hartley reported.
“It is what it is; everything happens for a reason,” Hartley said. “Mark was meant to get him.”
Richard Santulli's Colts Neck Stables purchased the Tapit colt from Halcyon Hammock Farm, agent.
The second and final session of the auction is scheduled for March 14. It will begin at 11 a.m.