Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. spring breeze show.

Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. spring breeze show.

Joe DiOrio

Broad Offering Should Keep OBS April Growing

The OBS April 2-year-olds in training sale has about 1,200 horses cataloged.

A deep catalog some 1,200-head strong and a lively barn area at Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. April 20 strongly suggests another round of active trading awaits buyers and consignors when the OBS spring sale begins a four-day run April 21 in Ocala, Fla.

Last year's phenomenal spring sale set records for gross sales ($56,965,000), average price ($73,981) and median price ($45,000). OBS officials are hopeful the momentum rolls on this year as the confidence of consignors and buyers escalates due to the wider range of stock available in April.

The new direction of the 2-year-olds in training sales landscape, away from boutique sessions with limited offerings, plays right into the wheelhouse of the spring sale, which is known for offering buyers race-ready juveniles in all budget ranges.

"The April sale keeps getting better and better as time goes on," said Tom Ventura, OBS president. "Consignors have complete confidence in being able to bring any type of pedigree here, regardless of pinhook price. They even point them to this sale now, and it gives them an extra month from March. They have confidence that the buyers will be here, and that is why the April sale has made such big strides.

"Feedback has been positive from buyers and consignors," Ventura added. "I hope we pick up where we left off in March. The sale should be a good barometer on the depth of the market this year."

The absence of Keeneland's annual April 2-year-old sale on the calendar this year has diverted a few more horses to Ocala.

"I think we picked up a few horses for this sale that were earmarked for Keeneland," Ventura said. "With 1,200 horses, it doesn't make a tremendous impact, but obviously the quality of those horses is a good addition to this sale. It will be helpful, but not extremely noticeable."

The under tack preview for the spring sale proved a marathon for all involved. Held in six sessions (April 13-18), the breeze shows got under way each day at 8 a.m. ET and finished most days around 1:30 p.m. Instead of having longer shows over fewer days, the extended run and shorter days allowed prospective buyers time to get a head start on inspections in the barn area.

"With the shorter breeze days, I noticed more activity in the barns in the afternoons," Ventura said. "From 1:30 or so until feeding time, people were doing their homework. They had a chance to do some of their preliminary work in the barns."

At the preview, three horses shared honors for the fastest eighth of a mile, each stopping the timer in :09 4/5. Hip 692 is a daughter of Lemon Drop Kid  out of the stakes-winning and graded stakes-placed Yonaguska mare Yonagucci consigned by Bobby Dodd, agent.

The two other juveniles with bullet works at the distance hail from the de Meric sales consignment. Hip 1032 is a Harlan's Holiday filly out of the unraced Tiznow mare Favoritism.

"Her mother is aptly named (Favoritism)," Nick de Meric said following the filly's breeze. "This filly hasn't missed a beat. I had her cataloged for the sale in South Florida (Fasig-Tipton Florida sale). She was plenty early enough and plenty good enough (for that sale), but we decided to wait for this sale. She's been working lights out at home."

Hip 1073 is a Street Cry (Ire) colt out of the Bernardini mare Gharbiah, a half sister to grade I winner Honey Ryder.

"He is a big, rugged, mature-looking colt by a stallion that needs no introduction in Street Cry," said de Meric, who consigns the colt for Golden Legacy Stables. "He's been working super at home, and he came over here and prepped like a monster. We were expecting a big performance from him, and he delivered in spades."

De Meric  Sales also consigns Hip 1109, a colt that is certain to attract plenty of attention from buyers. The dark bay or brown colt by Tale of the Cat  out of the Unbridled's Song mare Great Venue is a half brother to Gotham Stakes (gr. I) winner El Kabeir. That son of Scat Daddy is targeting the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) for Zayat Stables and trainer John Terranova.

Consignor Eddie Woods appears armed with yet another strong offering. Woods sent out Hip 608, a filly from the first crop of Big Drama, who zipped the fastest quarter-mile of the breeze show, getting the distance in :20 3/5 in the fourth session.

The dark bay or brown filly is out of the stakes-placed Jeblar mare Twilight Mirage and is a half sister to stakes winner Determinato.

"She's a beautiful filly, not very big," Woods said of the Florida-bred filly he bred in the name of his Quarter Pole Enterprises. "Her video is spectacular."

Woods also entertains high hopes for Hip 330, a Kentucky-bred colt from the first crop of Uncle Mo . The half brother to 2008 Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. II) winner Behindatthebar is produced from the grade I-placed mare Rhiana, by Runaway Groom.

Encouraged by the amount of foot traffic in the barns, Woods is optimistic heading into the sale.

"Traffic has been very good, fortunately," said Woods. "The vets are starting to show up and do some work, which is always encouraging. It looks like everyone is here, and from every level, from the top all the way through.

"This sale will be the honest mark for the year," Woods added. "It's not like when you have the super select sales where you have all top end horses; numbers get distorted by one horse bringing a lot of money. You can't distort it when there are 1,200 of them. It's like (Keeneland) September. That's how it's going to be here."

The April sale boasts sire power aplenty with perennial leading sires Bernardini , Distorted Humor , Ghostzapper , Giant's Causeway , Harlan's Holiday, Malibu Moon , Tapit , and Unbridled's Song all represented in the catalog.

Niall Brennan consigns a Bernardini colt, Hip 1100, that bears watching. The bay colt, who breezed one furlong in :10 1/5 at the under tack preview, is out of the graded stakes-winning and grade I-placed Graeme Hall mare Graeme Six. The colt, a half brother to stakes-placed Cali Star, was bred in Kentucky by Besilu Stables.

De Meric Sales topped all other consignors at last year's sale, selling 71 of 76 horse offered for $5,803,500. Eisaman Equine followed with sales of $3,619,000 on 35 horses sold from 37 offered.

Overcontrol, a colt by Tapit —Ready for Fortune, by More Than Ready  consigned by de Meric Sales, topped the spring sale last year, fetching $725,000 from Mike Repole. Overcontrol broke his maiden on debut for trainer Todd Pletcher at Gulfstream Park last December before finishing last in an allowance optional claiming event as the even-money favorite in his only other start to date.

Recent stakes-winning graduates from the spring sale include the likes of The Big Beast , Calculator, Conquest Two Step, Dance With Fate, Wild Dude, Parranda, and Stephanie's Kitten.

The spring sale boasts three classic winners—Lil E. Tee, winner of the 1992 Kentucky Derby, Silver Charm, victorious in the 1997 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes (gr. I), andI'll Have Another , who won the 2012 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.

"Just looking at the catalog covers you can see the types of horses that have been winning recently," said Ventura. "As I say over and over, we're only as good as the horses we get to sell. And then we're only as good as how they perform at the racetrack. We've been very fortunate on both fronts."

The spring sale will be streamed live at bloodhorse.com/OBS. All sessions are scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m.