By Michael Compton
Ocala Breeders' Sales Company officials could not have scripted a better start to the OBS spring sale of 2-year-olds in training in Ocala, Fla., on Monday, April 22.
Light rain and gray skies throughout the sale's opening session did little to dampen buyer enthusiasm. Bidding proved fast and furious, fueling large gains and sale records in all key economic indicators.
For the day, 189 horses brought a first-day spring sale record total of $11,372,500, compared with 186 horses selling for $7,533,000 at last year's opening session. The $60,172 session average, also a record, soared 48.6% from last year's first day average of $40,500. The $37,000 median price rose 48%, compared with $25,000 a year ago.
The buy-back rate was 18.9%; it was 20.2% at the corresponding session last year. A total of 34 horses sold for $100,000 or more compared with 14 during the first session in 2012.
"We expected to have a strong sale but to start like this, with the numbers up so dramatically, is unbelievable," said OBS president Tom Ventura. "It was strong from start to finish. We knew we had a good group of horses and that a lot of buyers were awaiting this sale, but truly everything fell into place. I certainly don't want to be overconfident just yet, but I am looking for three more good days to come. I hope we can keep up this pace."
A filly by Limehouse , Hip No. 292, brought $320,000 from Alex and JoAnn Lieblong to top the opening session.
Consigned by Eisaman Equine, agent, the chestnut filly is produced from the stakes-placed Housebustermare Dominica, a full sister to stakes winner Find the Treasure. Bred in Kentucky by Lavin Bloodstock and Kenowa Stable, the filly, who was purchased by Mike Dubb for $28,000 out of the Indian Creek consignment at last year's Keeneland September yearling sale, worked an eighth of a mile in :10 1/5 at the under tack show.
"She came to us after the Keeneland sale," said Barry Eisaman. "Everything was very normal with her. When you look at Limehouse, he's not a commercially popular stallion, but when you look at her as an athlete and as a racehorse, she did it all."
Eisaman Equine led all consignors during the opening session, selling 10 head for $857,000. The Lieblongs led all buyers during the opening session, spending $865,000 for five juveniles. Among their other notable purchases was a $200,000 filly by Flatter , Hip No. 237, consigned by Old South Farm, agent.
Two horses—Hip No.'s 26 and 300—each fetched $290,000. Steven Young, agent, signed the ticket for Hip No. 26, a colt from the first crop of Colonel John. Consigned by de Meric Sales, agent, the bay colt is produced from the winning Dixieland Band mare Always Ready, a half-sister to millionaire and leading sire More Than Ready .
Bred in Kentucky by WinStar Farm, the colt, purchased by Nick de Meric for $70,000 at the 2012 Keeneland September sale, breezed in :10 at the under tack preview.
"He is by a first-year sire whose babies have shown well at the 2-year-old sales this year," said Young who said the horse was purchased for an undisclosed client. "The fact that he brought that kind of money so early in the sale shows you how good of a horse he is. I really liked his breeze. He's a quick horse. I liked his conformation and his dam is a half to a very good sire. This is the kind of horse that if you are right, you are going to get paid."
Hip No. 300, the last horse through the ring during the session, sold to K.K. Eishindo. Consigned by Wavertree Stables Inc. (Ciaran Dunne), agent, the colt is by Henny Hughes out of the stakes-placed Tricky Mister mare Dressed for Success and is a half-brother to graded stakes-placed Switch to the Lead. Bred by Kona Stable in Kentucky, the colt is from the family of accomplished sprinter Gators N Bears and he worked a quarter mile in :21 at the under tack preview.
Hip No. 5, a West Virginia-bred Flatter colt named Flat Jack, sold to West Point Thoroughbreds post sale for $285,000. Consigned by Ocala Stud, agent, the colt, a half-brother to stakes-placed Ready and Tough, worked a co-bullet quarter mile in :20 4/5 at the under tack preview. He was a $165,000 purchase by Whitefish Stable out of the Hill 'n' Dale Sales Agency consignment at last year's Fasig-Tipton October sale.
"He's a really good horse," said Ocala Stud's David O'Farrell. "He has done everything right. He was shown a lot prior to the sale and he handled it all very well. We were selling him for a client who would have been fine taking him to the races, so we weren't going to give him away. He was bought by good connections, so it worked out well."
Dennis O'Neill, who purchased 2012 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner I'll Have Another out of the 2011 OBS spring sale, went to $200,000 to secure the second highest-priced filly of the opening session. The Kentucky-bred filly, Hip No. 187, is by Stroll and was consigned by Tommy and Lori Fackler's Best a Luck Farm, agent. The Facklers bought the filly for $3,500 as a weanling at Keeneland in 2011. Bred in Kentucky by Paul Tackett, she worked an eighth in a brisk :10 at the under tack preview.
"She's a real nice individual," said Tommy Fackler of the filly who is produced from the Sultry Song mare Chosen Honor. "We really liked her as a baby. She's been forward for us all along."
Also bringing $200,000 out of the Old South Farm consignment was Hip No. 252, a filly by City Zip who worked a co-bullet eighth in :9 3/5 at the under tack preview. David Clark signed the ticket on the swift chestnut.
"She worked fast," said Clark, who indicated the filly will be trained by Randy Morris. "I also liked her conformation. To be honest, I couldn't find any faults. She seems fast. I hope I can say the same thing about her at this time next year."
Bruno De Julio of Post Parade Bloodstock is both buying and selling at OBS this week. Shortly before signing the $50,000 ticket for Hip No. 293, a Corinthian colt out of the Eddie Woods consignment, De Julio summed up the day's activity.
"It's great to see so many buyers here," said De Julio. "There is always a good selection of horses at OBS. As a buyer and seller, this sale is like going to the ballpark as a kid. There are so many horses to watch work and inspect, I just love taking it all in. To me, the only difference is the horses don't have jerseys on."
The sale continues Tuesday, April 23 at 10:30 a.m. The sale can be viewed live at bloodhorse.com/obs.