A handsome $470,000 son of Montbrook was the highest-priced horse sold as of 1 p.m. (EDT) at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. March select sale of 2-year-olds in training in Central Florida. Toyomitsu Hirai of Japan’s Eishin Farm purchased the dark bay or brown juvenile March 13 from Ocala Stud, agent for the colt’s breeder, Vernon Heath’s Centaur Farms.
Donato Lanni, the bloodstock services director for Kentucky-based Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm, also tried to buy the colt but fell short. Lanni helps Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert search for racing prospects at auctions.
Representing Hirai at the OBS sale were his sons Katsuhiko and Hirotsugu.
“He was very strong and he had a very fast time (working a quarter-mile in the co-fastest time of :20 4/5 during the auction’s under tack show),” said Katsuhiko Hirai of the expensive 2-year-old. “We hope he will be a champion in Japan.”
The Florida-bred colt is a half brother to the winner Northern Cotton (by High Cotton ). Their winning dam, My Golden Quest (by Coronado's Quest), finished second in the 2007 Eatontown Staybridge Suites Stakes at Monmouth Park.
“We’ve had a lot of people looking at him,” said Mike O’Farrell, who runs Ocala Stud and is the chairman of OBS. “He obviously worked very well. His breeze was good; his gallop out was good. He’s a beautiful horse with a good mind and a quality look about him. He was class on the track at the farm. He’s a ready-made horse. He’s ready to go; he could run next week.”
The colt’s high price didn’t come as a shock to O’Farrell.
“We knew a lot of people liked him,” he said. “You never know what they are going to bring, but I knew he could sell well. Would I have told you before the sale he was going to bring that? No. But does it surprise me? Not really. The good ones, the real nice ones, they sell extremely well. People want nice horses and he’s shown that he can run. He has a lot of talent. He looks the part and acts the part, and that’s what people want.”
According to O’Farrell, the colt was in the auction because Heath is reducing the size of his racing stable.
“He’s had a stable for 20-some-odd years,” O’Farrell said. “He’s had a lot of nice horses over the years. But he’s getting up in age. He didn’t want to sell, but I think his family, as a family, felt it was the best thing to do.”
The colt was foaled and raised at Ocala Stud.
“Mr. Heath, he’s owned five shares in Montbrook for a good number of years,” O’Farrell said. “He’s been a partner of mine in Trippi, he’s been a partner of mine in High Cotton, he’s been a partner of mine in In Summation . We’ve had a good relationship with Vernon Heath for many, many years. He’s done extremely well in the business.”
O’Farrell was satisfied with the overall results of the OBS March sale so far.
“It looks like a lot of sales where the good ones are selling very well and for the rest of them, it’s somewhat tougher,” he said. “But so far it looks like a good sale. There are an awful lot of people here, a lot of buyers. There has been a lot of interest, so I would have to think that everybody’s pleased.”