Staging a successful auction or two is one thing. Sustaining long-term success is something else entirely, and that is exactly what Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. is doing these days in both the juvenile and yearling markets.
The sales company, fresh off yet another record-setting round of 2-year-olds in training sales, begins its August yearling sale Tuesday, Aug. 26. A total of 1,037 yearlings, up from 841 a year ago, have been cataloged for the three-day sale at OBS, which opens with a selected session and closes with two open sessions Aug. 27-28. The sale begins each day at 10:30 a.m. EDT. You can watch the sale live at BloodHorse.com/OBS.
This year's larger catalog was assembled with quality in mind.
"We're interested in finding the best horses we can," said OBS president Tom Ventura. "We don't want to just bring horses here for the sake of having more horses. We want to bring the right horses in that we believe will fit the market."
Tod Wojciechowski, director of sales for OBS, and field representative Chad Johnson handled most of the inspections for the sale, and Johnson has recruited consignors and horses from out of state to supplement the sale's strong Ocala base of support.
"I did very few of the inspections (for this sale)," Ventura said, taking time out from looking over the stock on the sales grounds on the eve of this year's auction. "I'm very pleased with what I see. We have built off of last year.
"The catalog isn't larger because we wanted more numbers," he added. "We got the quality that we wanted. We've been able to supplement the very nice group of horses we had here locally with some horses from out of town. We have been working at this for a while now. Chad has been recruiting for us and he's done a great job."
Wojciechowski added, "In addition to the job Chad has done for us, it's good to see that some of the outfits that have come here the last few years have a good handle on what they have been successful with and they keep coming back. It's not like a one-and-done situation."
With the first three yearling sales--the Fasig Tipton Kentucky July, Saratoga select, and New York-bred sales--proving steady, Ventura is optimistic the OBS August sale will continue the trend.
"I'm looking forward to a good sale," Ventura said. "I'm looking to continue the momentum from the 2-year-old sales. I think the select group of horses, and I have put my eye on quite a few of them, have really come to the sale nicely. The earlier yearling sales, although not large in numbers, have been a sign that the market is still solid. I expect we'll have a solid sale as well."
There is plenty of precedent for buyer confidence when it comes to the horses slated to go through the ring this week at OBS. The sale has produced 22 millionaires, a deep roster that includes Eclipse Award winners Groovy, Kodiak Kowboy, Not Surprising, Silver Charm and Xtra Heat.
According to OBS, 108 August graduates have won or placed in 193 stakes races since the beginning of 2013, and they include grade I winners Jeranimo andEgg Drop. Among the most recent stakes winners are Rustlewood Farm's Prudhoe Bay and Ike and Dawn Thrash and Janet and Sam Alley's Istanford.
"You have to have quality and you have to sell horses that are runners," said Ventura. "Some of the other (newer) consignors have seen the success that we have had and they believe they can do well bringing quality stock here. Plus, we have seen that the sale has improved in averages, and so forth, and that gives consignors more confidence in selling their horses here."
The 2013 August class of graduates is also making its presence felt on the racetrack. Cecil Peacock's Story to Tell, winner of the W. L. Proctor Memorial Stakes July 13 at Los Alamitos Race Course, is the initial stakes winner of the group.
Despite high temperatures and frequent rain showers in Ocala that have pushed the heat index upwards of 100 of late, traffic has been constant in the barn area.
"Today has been a much nicer day to show horses than yesterday was," said Richard Kent of Kaizen Sales the day before the start of the select session. "Traffic has been good, even for the open horses.
"I think we are going to see a good, solid sale," Kent added. "A lot of useful horses will come out of this sale. It's nice to build on a couple of successful sales, and this sale will benefit by the strength of the market. The pinhookers generally do well here. They seem to get a good return on the horses bought here, and that gives them confidence to come back. Overall, buyers have been more and more cautious the last couple of years, but the interest is there."
Sire power is evident in the August sale catalog which features offspring of leading sires Speightstown, Kitten's Joy, Giant's Causeway, Curlin, Lemon Drop Kid, Ghostzapper, Harlan's Holiday, Leroidesanimaux, Mineshaft, Scat Daddy, Stormy Atlantic, Street Sense, and Unbridled's Song.
In addition, stallions on the rise Blame , Cowboy Cal, Lookin At Lucky , Majesticperfection , Majestic Warrior, Midnight Lute , Pioneerof the Nile , Super Saver , Tale of Ekati , and Warrior's Reward are all well represented.
The August sale also gives buyers their first looks at the highly anticipated yearlings from the first crop of promising young sires.
First-crop sires represented include Archarcharch , Cape Blanco, Drosselmeyer, Dublin , Gio Ponti , Haynesfield , Paddy O'Prado , Sidney's Candy, Telling, Tizway , Trappe Shot , Twirling Candy , Uncle Mo , and Wilburn .
"This sale is a great place to showcase yearlings by local first crop sires," Ventura said, "and this year there are plenty of Florida first-crop sires represented like First Dude , Big Drama and others."
Among Florida's first-crop sires represented in the select session are: Backtalk, Big Drama, First Dude, Factum, Gone Astray , and J P's Gusto . Established Florida stallions A. P. Warrior, High Cotton , Put It Back, Two Step Salsa , Wildcat Heir, and With Distinction also have yearlings on offer.
A pair of colts from the Summerfield Sales consignment of Francis and Barbara Vanlangendonck topped last year's sale, each fetching $250,000.
A colt by Concord Point--Better Than Swiss, by Tomorrows Cat, now named Forward Guidance, was purchased by Nick de Meric, agent.
EQB, agent for Zayat Stables, signed for the co-sale topper, a Scat Daddy colt out of the Unbridled's Song mare Great Venue. The colt, El Kabeir, finished third in his career debut Aug. 14 at Saratoga for trainer John Terranova.
Last year's sale saw 650 head change hands for $16,146,200, far exceeding the previous year's totals of $10,874,500 on 537 horses sold. The 2013 average of $24,840 increased 23% from $20,250 in 2012.
Summerfield led all other consignors at last year's sale, parting with 66 of 81 horses offered to the tune of $2,409,500. Beth Bayer followed, selling 64 of 69 for $1,876,700.
Nick de Meric, agent, topped all buyers, spending $1,049,000 on 15 head.
The sale will be streamed live at bloodhorse.com/OBS beginning at 10:30 a.m. (EDT).