By Michael Compton
Officials of Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. understandably exhausted a thesaurus full of superlatives in describing this week's OBS Spring Sale in Ocala, Fla. which concluded its four-day run on April 25.
The auction of 2-year-olds in training set a Spring Sale record in gross receipts by the conclusion of the third session April 24. All told, final numbers far exceeded even the lofty expectations of sales officials. Total gross for the sale was $48,549,000 on 802 head sold, surpassing the previous record set last year when 771 head sold for $33,506,400.
The average of $60,535 also was a sale record, up 39.3% from last year's record of $43,458. The median price also established a new standard of $35,000, eclipsing last year's mark of $27,000. Buy-back percentage was 15.4%: It was 16.4% last year. A total of 39 juveniles brought $200,000 or more compared with 17 last year.
"A sale like this is extremely gratifying," said OBS President Tom Ventura. "Buyers know they can get top runners here. Graduates of this sale continue to perform at the top level, and consignors have become more confident in the sale. The quality of horses in this catalog was a key factor to why we had a record sale."
For the final session, 178 horses sold for $9,897,500 compared with 176 selling for $8,591,700 at the corresponding session last year. The average of $55,604 was up 13.9% from $48,816 a year ago. The final session's median price was $30,000: it was $25,000 last year. Buy-back percentage rose slightly to 23.3% from 17.4% last year.
Hip No. 1002, a flashy gray/roan colt by Street Sense consigned by Rice Horse Stables, agent, topped the final session bringing $425,000 from David Clark.
Produced from the Notebook mare Spoken Softly, a full sister to multiple grade I stakes winner Spoken Fur and a half sister to grade III stakes winner Unbridled's Note, the filly was bred in Kentucky by Glencrest Farm and Darley. Deuce Greathouse went to $30,000 to acquire the colt as a yearling out of the Four Star Sales consignment at the 2012 Keeneland September sale. He worked an eighth of a mile in :10 1/5 at the under tack preview.
"He is built with all the right angles and structures," said Brandon Rice who operates Rice Horse Stable with his wife, Alexandra de Meric. "Our job was just not to drop the ball and have him primed and ready to sell. He was forward as anything. We know his biggest days are yet to come."
Alexandra added: "We believe this is the first of many headlines for the colt."
Donato Lanni signed the $410,000 ticket for Hip No. 1087 on behalf of The Three Amigos—Karl Watson, Mike Pegram and Paul Weitman. Lanni indicated the colt, who was the second highest-priced horse of the day, will be sent to trainer Bob Baffert.
"They are great guys and are good for the game," said Lanni of The Three Amigos. "They were looking for a horse to run this year at two. He looks the part. This colt had a nice work and galloped out great. He's sound. He came back from the preview in good shape and carried good weight throughout the sale process."
Consigned by Stephens Thoroughbreds, agent, the Harlan's Holiday colt was bred in Florida by Farm III Enterprises and Off The Hook Partners and was acquired by Foye Genetics for $110,000 at Keeneland September. Produced from the Unbridled's Song mare Tinca's Song and from the family of grade I stakes winner Catinca, the colt worked an eighth in :10 1/5 at the under tack preview.
The Three Amigos bought last year's Spring Sale topper Executiveprivilege, for $860,000 out of the Eddie Woods consignment. The daughter of First Samurai is a two-time grade I winner. She finished second to Beholder to in the 2012 Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr.I) at Santa Anita Park and has bankrolled $940,000.
The Three Amigos led all buyers for the session, spending $510,000 on two juveniles. Off The Hook topped consignors in the final session, selling six head for $500,000.
De Meric Sales led all consignors at the sale with $3,179,000 in receipts on 46 head. Eisaman Equine was next, selling 39 juveniles for $3,128,500. Alex and JoAnn Lieblong led all buyers, spending $1,675,000 for 10 horses. Conquest Stables ranked second among the sale's leading buyers acquiring three head for $1,090,000.
After taking a breath following a week of frenzied activity, Ventura reflected on the record results.
"So many people behind the scenes are instrumental in pulling it all together," he said. "Everyone knows the names on the catalog pages, but the grooms and riders are also very important and are unsung heroes as are the people in our operation that keep everything flowing smoothly.
"These 2-year-old sales are the equivalent of an extended sale because of the under tack shows," Ventura added. "Our track superintendent, Bob Baron, has a tremendous responsibility to keep the track as consistent as possible from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on preview days in varying conditions. It's a very important role and often goes unrecognized. We're very appreciative of the efforts of a lot of people that contributed to this record sale."
Next on the OBS calendar is the June 2-Year-Olds and Horses of Racing Age Sale set for June 18- 19.
By Michael Compton