Demand for 2-year-olds in training appears as strong as ever. Fueled by three seven-figure horses, the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co.'s selected sale of 2-year-olds in training on March 11 in Ocala, Fla., shattered records, establishing new benchmarks for gross, average, and median price.
The one-day sale, originally scheduled for two sessions but consolidated to a single day following the postponement of the first under tack preview last week due to inclement weather, generated gross receipts of $37,817,500, surpassing the previous record of $33,380,000 recorded in 2008. A total of 185 horses brought $28,794,000 a year ago.
The $190,997 average price on 198 horses sold established a new standard, rising 22.7% from last year's sale record $155,643. The median, also a sale record at $137,500, rose 10% over last year's record $125,000. The buy-back percentage was 24.1%; it was 21.6% a year ago.
"To move forward so much is very gratifying," said Tom Ventura, OBS president. "We couldn't have been happier with the horses the consignors brought here, and the quality was affirmed in the sale ring."
A pair of highly touted colts—Hip No.'s 343 and 350—each sold for $1.6 million late in the day to top the sale.
Hip No. 343, a chestnut colt by Giant's Causeway out of the stakes-winning and stakes-producing Unbridled's Song mare Rebridled Dreams consigned by Giuseppe Iadisernia's Northwest Stud, sold to Barbara Banke's Stonestreet Stables.
"We loved his action, his pedigree, everything about him, really," Banke said of the colt who worked an eighth of a mile in :10 1/5 at the under tack preview. "He seems like a sound horse. We thought we might have to go that high to get him."
Bred in Kentucky by Coffee Pot Stable, the colt, a half brother to Dixiana Breeders' Futurity (gr. I) winner J. B.'s Thunder and English stakes winner Doncaster Rover, was the most expensive pinhook in the sale. Northwest Stud went to $550,000 to secure the colt at last year's Keeneland September sale where he was consigned by Beau Lane Bloodstock.
"This is the kind of horse you dream about," said Alfredo Lichoa of Northwest Stud, adding that the colt has potential to be a Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) quality horse. "He has so much class. They'll be talking about this horse leading up to next year's Kentucky Derby. This means a lot to the entire operation.
"When he started training at the farm, I thought he was a $2 million horse," Lichoa said. "All of the right buyers were on him all week."
Stonestreet also bought last year's $1.8 million sale topper, Pacific, a son of Smart Strike —Mini Sermon, by Pulpit, consigned by King's Equine.
Hip No. 350, a flashy gray or roan colt by Tapit consigned by Eddie Woods, agent, sold to Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad Al Thani's Al Shaqab Racing. Bradley Weisbord, newly appointed racing adviser for Al Shaqab Racing, signed the ticket for the full brother to grade I winner Zazu and grade II winner Flashback out of the Mr. Greeley mare Rhumb Line.
"This was a can't-miss colt," Weisbord said. "This was about where we valued him. He's a fancy horse, a top horse in the sale. The market seems to be flying right now, and that's what those horses bring.
"Obviously, if he goes out and wins a grade I, he will be a top stallion prospect in America," Weisbord added. "He has the best pedigree in the sale, and for him to go and breeze like he did for a Tapit this early was impressive. We're delighted to add him to the team."
Weisbord indicated that plans for the colt, who breezed an eighth in :10 2/5 at the under tack preview and was bred in Kentucky by SF Bloodstock, are still being finalized.
Hip No. 230, a son of Malibu Moon —Layreebelle, by Tale of the Cat , consigned by Bobby Dodd, agent, also fetched seven figures, selling for $1.3 million. Demi O'Byrne, seated near trainer Bob Baffert, signed the ticket for Coolmore.
The colt's two half siblings became stakes winners after the catalog was printed. Spellbound, a daughter of Bernardini , won the La Canada Stakes (gr. II) Jan. 19 at Santa Anita Park and Kid Cruz, a colt by Lemon Drop Kid , won the Private Terms Stakes at Laurel Park on March 8.
"The dam is nice. She's already produced two stakes winners," O'Byrne said. "The colt is a good mover. He breezed really well."
Bred in Kentucky by Machmer Hall, the colt was purchased by Grand Oaks at last year's Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale for $200,000 out of the Select Sales consignment. He breezed an eighth in :10 at the under tack preview.
Trainer Mark Casse, agent, signed the $700,000 ticket for the highest-priced filly of the sale, Hip No. 408, a daughter of Malibu Moon named Make the Sun Shine.
Consigned by Niall Brennan, agent, the filly, bred in Kentucky by Jane Schosberg, is out of the grade III stakes winner Sunshine for Life, by Giant's Causeway. She breezed an eighth of a mile in :10 1/5 at the under tack preview.
"I'm a Malibu Moon fan," said Casse, who purchased the filly for an undisclosed client. "She's pretty, and she looks the part."
Also selling for $700,000 was Hip No. 51, a Street Boss colt consigned by de Meric Sales, agent. Baffert signed the ticket in the name of Michael Lund Peterson for the colt whose quarter-mile work in :21 was the fastest at the distance at the first under tack preview.
Bred in Kentucky by Glencrest Farm, the colt was produced from the winning Forest Wildcat mare Albany County. Old Gables and Hubert Guy acquired the colt for $105,000 out of the Taylor Made Sales Agency consignment at last year' Keeneland September sale.