Excitement in New York Could Help OBS Sale

Racing purses in the Empire State are expected to rise because of VLT casino.

The scheduled opening of a video lottery terminal casino at New York’s Aqueduct later this year provided a boost to business at Fasig-Tipton’s Saratoga select and New York-bred preferred sales earlier this month.

Excitement about higher racing purses because of revenue from the casino also might help the market at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. August yearling auction. Even though the sale will be held in Central Florida, it should benefit from a “trickle-down effect” during its three-day run, Aug. 23-25, according to OBS general manager and director of sales Tom Ventura.

“They no longer are just talking about slots in New York; they’re installing them,” Ventura said. “I think the overall impact will be good for all yearling markets because horses other than New York-breds run in New York and the purses for all races – even the ones that aren’t for New York-breds  --  are going to go up significantly.”

The opening day of the OBS sale is for select horses and it will be followed by two open sessions. There are 772 yearlings cataloged for the auction. The number is down 14.3% from 2010’s total of 901.

“I think we’ve got a good group of horses and a nice mix of sires,” Ventura said. “There are horses that have been sent down from Kentucky to add to the Florida-based group, so I think, overall, the buyers will be pleased with what they see.”

Based on an analysis done recently for The Blood-Horse MarketWatch newsletter, which looked at the racing performance of yearling auction graduates over a several year period, the select portion of the OBS ranked second by percentage of stakes winners (6.9%). The sale also ranked second by average earnings ($56,447), percentage of $50,000-plus earners (31%), and percentage of grade I stakes winners (1.17%). The auction was No. 1 by percentage of juvenile winners (26%).

“The select horses have appeal both to end users and pinhookers,” Ventura said. “They are moderately priced and that portion of the sale has been very good in terms of performance at the racetrack. The $40,000 to $60,000 price range is within the range of the pinhookers and the end users certainly will be able to get good value. There should be enough activity for the select session to turn in decent results.”

Ventura also thought there was a good possibility of a solid performance from the open sessions.

“That has always been – even in good times – a tougher part of the market,” Ventura said. “But one thing that is working in our favor in terms of the average price is that there are fewer horses. If the demand remains steady with the supply dwindling, that will help stabilize that end of the market.”

While the stock market has been volatile recently and the economy’s health remains uncertain, Ventura hoped the encouraging trends seen at 2011’s earlier major yearling sales would continue at the OBS auction.

“I think the first sales of the year have been positive,” he said. “The Saratoga select sale is a very small sale, so it’s difficult to gauge the general market based on its results. But the other two sales (the New York-bred preferred auction and the Fasig-Tipton July select yearling auction) give you reasons for optimism. It seems like prices have stabilized.”

The OBS sale select session is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. (EDT) and the two open sessions each will begin at 10:30 a.m.