Ocala Breeders' Sales Co.'s spring sale, the largest offering of 2-year-olds in training at public auction each season, has established a reputation for producing graded stakes winners and attracting buyers in all price ranges.
This year's spring sale, slated for April 21-24 in Ocala, Fla., boasts a catalog of more than 1,200 juveniles and promises more of the same on both counts. The spring sale kicks off at 10:30 a.m. and will be streamed live at bloodhorse.com/OBS.
OBS sales officials and consignors are anticipating four days of active trading.
"The key is that we have built up a solid sale based on the horses we are able to attract from consignors," said Tom Ventura, OBS president. "Consignors now feel very confident that they can bring any level of horse here and have a chance to sell it."
Buyers at public auction have demonstrated that they value selection. The spring sale delivers.
"The attraction to the sale, with 1,200 horses in the catalog, from both sides of the equation, is that buyers can come from anywhere in the world and find a horse that suits their specific taste and falls within their budget," said Ventura. "That also gives consignors comfort in knowing they can sell their horse and not be concerned with the sale being top heavy."
The select portion of this year's 2-year-olds in training sale season is in the books and featured mixed results. The Barretts and OBS March sales both enjoyed sharp across-the-board increases, while sale average and median price fell at the Fasig-Tipton Florida sale and Keeneland April experienced declines in number sold and gross sales.
Consignors are optimistic the OBS spring sale will pick up where the record-setting OBS March sale left off.
"I presume we're going to see a market closer to what we had here in March rather than the market we saw at Fasig-Tipton and Keeneland," said Brent Fernung of Journeyman Bloodstock. "I liken this sale to Keeneland September for 2-year-olds. There are a large number of horses in the catalog and all the buyers are here.
"This sale shows you just how important numbers are," Fernung added. "The importance of numbers in a sale is underestimated by a lot of consignors. I don't think they need the boutique sales as much as they think they do."
Consignor Joe Appelbaum of Off The Hook anticipates a solid sale as well.
"I expect it to be a fairly strong market, notwithstanding the fact that the two premium sales were a little spotty," Appelbaum said. "Demand is holding steady for the good horses."
The spring sale has produced a pipeline of graded stakes winners, including 2012 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum Brands (gr. I) winner I'll Have Another .
Gracing the front covers of this year's catalogs are spring sale graduates Fashion Plate and Heir Kitty, both grade I winners.
Fashion Plate, campaigned by Arnold Zetcher and Michael Tabor, reeled off her third consecutive victory and second straight grade I stakes in winning the Santa Anita Oaks April 5. The 3-year-old daughter of Old Fashioned was consigned to last year's spring sale by de Meric Sales, agent, and sold for $340,000 to Simon Callaghan.
Heir Kitty, winner of the La Brea Stakes (gr. I) at Santa Anita Park last December, sold out of the Southern Cypress Stable consignment at the 2012 spring sale to trainer Peter Miller, agent, for $32,000.
Trained by Miller, the daughter of Wildcat Heir has earned $417,272 for owners David Bernsen and Paul Makin.
The spring sale once again appears loaded with precocious talent. Notable pedigrees in the sale with important catalog updates include Hip No.25, a filly by In Summation —Flirting With Fate, by Saint Ballado, consigned by Best A Luck Farm, agent.
The filly is a half sister to Sharon Alesia, Bran Jam Stables, and Ciaglia Racing's Dance With Fate, winner of the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland April 12.
It was the first grade I win for the Florida-bred Two Step Salsa colt that was picked out by agent Larry Zap and trainer Peter Eurton and purchased by Joseph Ciaglia, Jr. for $120,000 out of the Best A Luck Farm consignment at the 2013 spring sale.
Dance With Fate has generated a healthy return on his sale price, having bankrolled $680,050. He is scheduled to make his next start in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum Brands (gr. I).
The Blue Grass stakes win also provided Tommy and Lori Fackler of Best A Luck Farm, breeders of Dance With Fate, with their initial grade I win.
"My voice is still hoarse from last week's race," said Tommy Fackler. "My wife and I were very excited to hear the announcement that he will be going on to the Derby."
As for the filly, who breezed an eighth in 10 flat at the under tack preview, Tommy said, "She's coming up to the sale great. She has a nice way of going, and she worked well."
Woodside Ranch, agent, consigns Hip No. 570, a bay filly by Scat Daddy out of the graded stakes-placed Saint Ballado mare Saint Bernadette. The filly, who breezed a quarter in :21 2/5 at the preview, is a half sister to Social Inclusion , most recently third in the Twinspires.com Wood Memorial Stakes (gr. I) at Aqueduct Racetrack for Rontos Racing Stable.
Northwest Stud, consignors of the $1.6 million Giant's Causeway colt that was the March co-sale topper, will lead over more top prospects at the spring sale.
Hip No. 482 is a colt from the first crop by Blame out of the stakes winner and stakes producer Promptly, by Lead On Time. The $200,000 Keeneland September sale acquisition is a half brother to Fantastic View, a group winner in England. The colt worked an eighth in :10 1/5 at the breeze show.
Another youngster with a seemingly high ceiling for Northwest Stud is Hip No. 741, a Bernardini colt produced from the grade I winner Tarlow, by Stormin Fever. Purchased by Off The Hook for $200,000 out of the Mill Ridge Sales consignment at last year's Keeneland September sale, the colt breezed a quarter in :21 at the under tack preview.
"The Bernardini colt is special," said Northwest Stud's Alfredo Lichoa. "He's a very nice horse. I think it will be a strong sale overall. There are a lot of good horses on the grounds."
After four days of under tack previews, Hip No. 1207, a son of Wildcat Heir consigned by Wavertree Stables (Ciaran Dunne), agent, sped the sale's fastest eighth of a mile, stopping the clock in :09 3/5. The colt is out of Exquisite Beauty, by Bertrando, from the family of grade I winner Idiot Proof.
Two horses, Hip No.'s 798 and 1187, shared honors for the fastest quarter mile, each working in :20 3/5. The former is a son of Harlan's Holiday consigned by Northwest Stud, and the latter is a Speightstown colt consigned by Niall Brennan Stables, agent for Stonestreet Stables.
Hip No. 511, a daughter of Tale of Ekati consigned by All Dreams Equine, agent, breezed the fastest three eighths of a mile, stopping the timer in :33.
"It was a very even surface through all four days," Ventura said of Ocala Training Center's SafeTrack synthetic surface. "And that's a testament to our trackman, Bob Baron, and his team. All the consignors had a chance to show their horses under fair conditions. The wind was a challenge on the first day, but after that we were certainly in good shape on Wednesday and Thursday. On Friday, we dodged some major weather for the most part."
"The times were good," Ventura added. "It was a fast, but not overly fast, fair track. Whether you breezed a horse at 9 a.m. or 3 p.m. the track was similar. When they run a race, the finish line determines the winner. Here you have horses breezing against the clock. We all pay attention to times, but buyers are astute and they take into account not only how fast they go but how well they move. Time is important, but it's not the most important part of what happens out there."
Ventura expressed confidence in the strength of this year's spring sale offering.
"I feel good about the sale," he said. "I think we will build off of the March sale. Purses are still strong in a lot of different areas. In the end, owners need purses to run for. I'm looking forward to a good week. You hate to get overconfident, so I try to stay grounded. By the looks of it, everything is in place to have a good sale."
Last year's spring sale established new standards. The sale posted highs in gross sales ($49,025,000), average ($59,933) and median price ($35,500). The sale topper was Prince Bernardini, a son of Bernardini--Rooney's Princess, by Deputy Minister, who fetched $900,000 from Brushwood Stable. Hartley/De Renzo Thoroughbreds consigned the colt.