Ocala Breeders' Sales Co.'s marathon four-day spring sale of 2-year-olds in training hustled out of the blocks April 21 in Ocala, Fla.
Paced by steady bidding in virtually all price ranges throughout the day, 173 horses changed hands on gross receipts of $11,512,000, down slightly from the corresponding session at last year's record-breaking sale that saw 202 horses sell for $11,632,000. The average price was $66,543, an increase of 15.5% from last year's first-day average of $57,584.
Median price rose 26.8% to $45,000 from $35,000 a year ago. Buy-back percentage in the first session was 23.5%, up from 13.3% a year ago. A total of 38 horses brought $100,000 or more compared with 34 in 2013.
"We got off to a good start," said Tom Ventura, OBS president. "Average and median were up. Buy-backs were up some from last year, but actual results are fluid with post-sale transactions. I expect that percentage to be lower.
"I think everything is in place for three more good days," Ventura added. "I can't get overly excited with just one day in the books, but I am certainly encouraged by today's results."
Hip No. 218, a Mineshaft
colt consigned by Eisaman Equine, agent, topped the session, selling to Frank Fletcher Racing for $550,000. Agent Donato Lanni signed the ticket on the chestnut colt who breezed an eighth of a mile in :10 1/5 at the under-tack preview.
"At the 2-year-old sales, those boxes that we like to check get bigger and tougher to check," said Lanni, "and so few of them check those boxes. He did that. He has great constitution, a good mind on him. He worked great. Everyone was on him. You don't know what they are going to bring. You just bid on the ones you love and hope that you get them bought. Sometimes the good ones cost a lot."
Produced from the winning Deputy Minister mare Kelly Pond, the colt is a half brother to graded stakes-placed Clear Pond and hails from the family of grade I winner Talinum. Bred in Kentucky by Tony Holmes and Walter Zent, the colt was acquired by Eric Antonio Delvalle for $65,000 out of the Warrendale Sales consignment at last year's Keeneland September sale.
Lanni indicated the colt will be trained by Bob Baffert.
The session topper's price exceeded the $320,000 paid for a Limehouse filly on the sale's first day last year.
"The session topper is a real nice colt," said Ventura. "But it goes to show you that times aren't everything. He worked in a good time, but he wasn't the fastest. They buyers factor in an awful lot to whittle down their choices."
Trainer Randy Morse went to $340,000 on behalf of David Clark to secure the bid for Hip No. 280, a colt by Bellamy Road
consigned by Bo Hunt, agent. The half brother to stakes winner Out For a Spin and stakes-placed Wise Action was bred in Kentucky by Mr. and Mrs. Gregory Osterloh out of the winning Linkage mare Long Drive Home.
Royal Flush Racing paid $35,000 for the colt at the 2013 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky fall yearling sale where he was sold by Vinery Sales/Millennium Farms, agent.
"I liked everything about him, obviously some other people did too," said Morse. "He went in :10 1/5, but he's a two-turn type horse. He's really young, he's almost a June foal. I just really liked him."
Morse and Clark are no strangers to the OBS spring sale. They bought Street Strategy
, a strapping gray son of Street Sense
—Spoken Softly, by Notebook, out of the Rice Horse Stables consignment at last year's spring sale for $425,000.
Street Strategy, racing under the banner of Clark's Iron Horse Racing, broke his maiden in his second career start at Oaklawn Park in January and was subsequently injured when finishing sixth in the Rebel Stakes (gr. II) in his subsequent start March 15.
"He'll be back," Morse said of Street Strategy.
The top-priced filly of the day, Hip No. 62, a daughter of Harlan's Holiday consigned by de Meric Sales, agent, sold for $270,000 to Narvick International, agent for Riki Takahashi.
Bred in New York by Gerald Nielsen, the filly was consigned by Summerfield Sales, agent, to the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga preferred New York-bred yearling sale where she was purchased by Nick de Meric for $75,000.
The bay filly breezed an eighth in a swift :10 at the under-tack preview, and is out of A. P. Jet mare Garden Party, a half sister to three stakes winners, including grade I winner Without Feathers.
"I chase the Harlan's Holidays," said Takahashi. "I like her pedigree and I liked her work. She's a good mover."
John Fort, agent for Gainesway Farm, paid $250,000 for Hip No. 161, a filly by Flatter
consigned by Eisaman Equine, agent. Produced from the winning Southern Halo
mare Hurricane Hannah, the filly worked a co-fastest furlong in :09 4/5 at the first under-tack preview.
"She's fast," said Fort. "She was very aggressive in her work. She isn't really a muscular-type horse. She's more elegant."
Eisaman Equine led all other consignors by gross sales for the session, selling 11 horses for $1,248,000. De Meric Sales sold 21 juveniles for $1,103,000.
With the purchase of the session-topping Mineshaft colt, Fletcher topped all buyers. Steven Young, agent, signed for three horses and spent $445,000.
The spring sale continues April 22 at 10:30 a.m. EDT and will be streamed live at bloodhorse.com/OBS