By Michael Compton
Temperatures in Ocala, Fla. have steadily climbed in recent days, seemingly in concert with the voracious appetites of buyers in search of fast juveniles. Continuing its record march, the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co.'s Spring Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training posted another day of positive returns on April 24.
During the third of four sessions, a total of 205 horses changed hands for total sales of $13,465,000 compared with 202 horses grossing $8,526,700 at last year's third session. With one session remaining in the sale, the cumulative gross after three sessions is $38,563,500, surpassing the Spring Sale record $33,506,400 which was set over four sessions last year.
The average was $65,683, up 55.6% from $42,211 a year ago. The median price was $40,000, up 48.1% from $27,000 at the corresponding session last year. The buy-back percentage was 14.6%; it was 13.3 last year. Once more, the number of six-figure horses soared past last year's totals with 42 head in the third session selling for $100,000 or more compared with 16 in 2012.
"The market is vibrant, and we are thrilled with the results we're seeing," said OBS President Tom Ventura. "This sale has been strong from the very first day. We thought the quality in this catalog was better than anything we've ever had in this sale. With one more session to go, the final tally will be far beyond last year's final numbers, and we are coming off a record April sale. Sometimes racehorses bounce. We haven't bounced. We expected a strong sale, but the results are exceeding our expectations."
Colts by Birdstone and Pulpit commanded the top price of $375,000 to power the third session. Hip No. 607, a son of Birdstone consigned by Wavertree Stables, Inc. (Ciaran Dunne) agent, sold to Michael Dilger, agent. Bred in Kentucky by Mueller Farms, the colt was bought last year for $70,000 by Superfine Farms at the Fasig-Tipton October sale. He is produced from the stakes-placed Ide mare Literary Light, a full sister to multiple stakes winner Junior College.
"He's a grand horse," said Dunne of the chestnut colt who breezed an eighth in :10 1/5 at the under tack preview. "We had him entered in the March Sale but he bucked shins. We feel more than rewarded here. He continued to improve for us and he sold well."
Donato Lanni, agent for Frank Fletcher, signed the ticket for the Pulpit colt, Hip No. 866, consigned by Eddie Woods, agent. The colt, bred in Kentucky by FS Bloodstock, is out of Rhythmical Beat, by Fusaichi Pegasus , a half-sister to graded stakes winner Mutakddim.
"The horse has sire power and a good pedigree," said Lanni of the colt who worked an eighth in :10 at the under tack preview. "His breeze was phenomenal and he galloped out great. He's a big, two-turn colt. He's good minded. I watched him train all year with Eddie Woods. When Eddie gave me the thumbs up on the colt, that's always a good sign from a consignor you trust."
Hip No. 890, named Thank You Daddy, was the top-priced filly of the day and second highest-priced horse, selling to Conquest Stables for $370,000. The filly, bred in Florida by Chris Gabel, turned in the fastest quarter mile breeze of :20 2/5 at the under tack preview. Consigned by Sergio Centeno's Blue River Bloodstock, agent, the filly is by Hear No Evil out of Saint Sammi, by Saint Ballado, a full sister to graded stakes winner Flame Thrower.
"We like the way she worked," said trainer Mark Casse. "She's a beautiful horse. She just looks fast."
The filly was purchased by Armando Rosas at last year's OBS August sale out of the Kaizen Sales consignment for $15,000. Rosas, a longtime employee of Harold and Opal Plumley's Plumley Farms in Ocala, Fla. and Richard Kent's Kaizen Sales, buys one yearling each year with designs on the 2-year-old marketplace.
"I thought it might be close to that price, but not quite that high," Rosas said surrounded by press in the pavilion moments after the filly went through the ring.
The Plumleys attended the sale in support of Rosas.
"He was the first employee I hired at Plumley Farms," said Harold. "He has never missed a day of work in 23 years. This is a special moment and well-deserved."
Kent added: "Last year he was looking through our consignment for a horse that would be in his price range and he landed on this one. I couldn't be happier for him. The look in his eyes says it all. I'm very proud of him. He definitely has a way with horses."
For Centeno, the sale also marked a milestone. It was the most expensive horse he has sold through his Blue River Bloodstock.
"It's very exciting," Centeno said. "She's a nice filly. She trained very well for me leading up to the sale."
Conquest Stables also went to $300,000 to secure the bid for Hip No. 701, a daughter of first-crop sire Colonel John out of More Oats Please, by Smart Strike. The filly, bred in Florida by Sally J. Andersen, failed to meet her reserve at the 2012 Keeneland September sale. She worked an eighth at the under tack show in :10 1/5.
Mike House and Sam Britt paid $350,000 for Hip No. 645, a colt by Flatter consigned by Hal Hatch's Halcyon Hammock Farm, agent. Bred in Kentucky by Upson Downs Farm and Brad Ray, the colt was sold to H.H. by his breeder for $35,000 at last year's Keeneland September Sale. The colt worked an eighth in :10 1/5 at the under tack preview.
Hip No. 685, a daughter of Old Fashioned consigned by de Meric Sales, agent, went to Simon Callaghan for $340,000. The Kentucky-bred filly, bought by Nick de Meric for $35,000 at Keeneland September out of the Taylor Made Sales Agency consignment, drilled an eighth in :9 4/5 at the under tack preview.
The sale's final session April 25 gets underway at 10:30 a.m. The sale can be viewed live at bloodhorse.com/obs.
By Michael Compton