OBS March Sale

OBS March Sale

Joe DiOrio

Signs Positive as OBS March Sale Approaches

Auction company officials and consignors are optimistic for March 13-14 event.

All systems are go for the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. March select sale of 2-year-olds in training. Auction company officials are upbeat and buyers seem eager to shop heading into sale, which is scheduled for March 13 and 14 in Central Florida.

“There are quite a few people here; the under tack show was well-attended and there is a lot of activity in the barns,” said OBS director of sales Tod Wojciechowski March 11. “All the comments we’ve been hearing from consignors are telling us that they’re optimistic.”

The OBS March auction is the second of the year’s four major select juvenile sales. The first, conducted by Barretts in Southern California March 5, enjoyed increases in its gross revenue, average price, and median price from 2011.

“There are so many positive things in our industry right now,” said OBS consignor Niall Brennan. “Purses have risen at Gulfstream Park, Oaklawn Park, and the Fair Grounds, and there’s also the increased purse structure in New York. Barretts had a good sale and since we have a stronger catalog at OBS, we should be able to build on that momentum.”

Other sellers were encouraged by a change they’ve noticed recently in buyers’ attitudes. One of America’s worst ever financial crises crushed shoppers’ confidence and wiped out their sources of credit in 2008. Thoroughbred auction prices subsequently plummeted and the aftereffects lingered.

“It seems to me that the American economy is getting better and that people are finally picking their heads up and deciding to move on,” said Shari Eisaman of Eisaman Equine. “We’ve had people calling us at our farm saying they’re looking for horses in the middle market and they’re ready to buy. That gets me excited.”

Another positive sign, according to Eisaman, is what appears to be an influx of new buyers into the juvenile marketplace.

“We’re entering names of people into our database that we’ve never seen before,” she said, “I think our number of shows is up, too.”

Donato Lanni, the bloodstock services director for Kentucky-based Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm, reported seeing a number of shoppers who were returning to the market after long absences. He also spotted some yearling buyers who were making their first appearances at a juvenile auction.

“It’s healthy,” he said of the significance of those developments.

The OBS March catalog has 362 horses. The number is down 26.1% from last year’s total of 490. Sellers generally were happy about the decrease in supply, saying it could help firm up demand, and shoppers seemed to be finding plenty of prospects that fit their criteria.

“There are some very nice horses at this sale,” said Kentucky bloodstock agent Davant Latham. “Paul Sharp’s Tiz Wonderful colt is spectacular and I think that Jim Crupi’s son of Scat Daddy is a heck of a 2-year-old. I’m not going to be buying at the upper level of the sale, but I think there are some very good horses that are going to fall into the mid-range. I’m hoping to be successful in getting them.”

Bob Fierro, the managing partner of DataTrack International, has been analyzing the OBS March horses using digital video technology and a speed figure system known as “BreezeFigs” for various clients.

“This is the most consistent sale I have seen in a long time when it comes to our BreezeFig figures,” he said. “The first day and the second day results (for the under tack show) virtually matched and that is extremely unusual. It means there probably are a lot more quality horses here than people had suspected and they may not all be at the top end of the market.”

The OBS March auction will start each day at 11 a.m. (EDT).

“The pieces are all in place for a strong sale,” said consignor Nick de Meric.