Business picked up during the second and final session of the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. March select sale of 2-year-olds in training, with three horses, including a $925,000 Flatter colt, bringing amounts that exceeded the opening session’s top price of $400,000 and another equaling it.
The auction finished March 16 in Central Florida with an average price that was only 1.5% below last year’s result, but the median price dropped 6.7%. Meanwhile, the number of horses sold increased 46.1% while the gross revenue rose 43.9%.
The buy-back rate was 24%, down from 29.5% in 2010. Consignors scratched 169 horses, or 34.5%, of the 490 cataloged.
“It wasn’t a great sale by any means, and I don’t know that I could call it good,” said consignor Tony Bowling of All In Sales. “But it was a whole lot better than it was down south (at the Fasig-Tipton Florida select juvenile auction, where more than 40% of the 2-year-olds offered failed to find new homes). At least people came here to buy usable horses and not just the top ones. I was tickled just to see people buying $50,000, $60,000, $80,000, and $100,000 horses. To me, this is a lot more of a working man’s sale and a horse trainer’s sale instead of just an elite sale.”
The final figures included a gross of $25,563,000 for the 244 juveniles that were sold. The average was $104,786 and the median was $70,000. Last year, 167 horses grossed $17,766,000 for an average price of $106,383 and a median of $75,000.
“I’m relieved,” said Shari Eisaman of Eisaman Equine. “It was a better sale today, and I’m much happier today. There were more good horses today and the buyers stepped up and bid pretty hard on them, which made me feel better.”
OBS consolidated its select juvenile auction program this year, scrapping its February sale and keeping the March sale. That was the right decision based on one important key business figure, according to OBS general manager Tom Ventura, who also serves as the company's director of sales.
“The gross for the two sales combined last year ($24,180,000) was less than the gross for the March sale this year,” he said. “Today was much stronger than the first day. There were more high-end horses today than there were yesterday and it was very competitive at the top end of the market. There also was a drastic difference in the median; it was $57,000 for the first session and $87,000 for the second session.”
Eisaman, and her veterinarian husband, Barry, sold the $925,000 New York-bred Flatter colt to Kaleem Shah, one of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert’s clients.
“I feel like (my son) Bode in Toys ‘R’ Us,” Baffert said. “I am so excited. He’s a really awesome horse.”
The dark bay or brown juvenile worked a quarter mile in :20 3/5 prior to the auction, sharing the fastest time for the distance with a Dixie Union – Big City Dream filly. Produced from the unraced Quiet American mare Silence Please, he is a half brother to Sky Music (by Sky Mesa ), who captured the 2010 Restrainor Stakes at Aqueduct. Their dam is a half sister to Give Notice (by Known Fact), winner of the 1991 Lovely Claire Stakes at Aqueduct.
“He’s got the pedigree to go long, he’s fast, and he looks very, very sound,” Baffert said. “He’s also got a great mind. When you go to these sales and one of them jumps out like that at you, you need to buy that kind of horse. That’s the type of horse that will win you the big races. He looks like a big-time horse.”
The price, Baffert added, would be "a lot of money for a horse that can't run, but he’s already shown he can really run; his work was just sensational. We tried to pick him apart, but we couldn’t. I’m very excited for Kaleem, who bought the Bob Baffert operation another bullet so we can carry on.”
“He’s a torpedo, not a bullet,” Shah interjected.
Responded Baffert: “He’s a cannon, that horse.”
Shah handled the bidding himself, sitting in the sale pavilion and fighting off stiff competition that included Kentucky bloodstock agent John Moynihan, who is a key advisor to Jess Jackson. Baffert watched the proceedings from the area behind the pavilion where the walking rings are located.
“Bob liked him. He thought he was the best horse in the sale, so we went and bought him,” Shah said. “It’s a lot of money, but Bob wanted him a lot and egged me on.”
A partnership involving Gary and Betty Biszantz, trainer Stan Hough, and Donald Piser of New York owned the colt. The Biszantzes, in the name of their Kentucky-based Cobra Farm, purchased the colt for $90,000 from Denali Stud, agent, at the 2010 Fasig-Tipton New York-bred preferred yearling sale.
“Bob got the best horse in the sale,” Shari Eisaman said. “He was the best because he had the best video (of a work), because of the way he moved over the track, because of the way he handled himself over the track, and because of the way he handles himself while showing. In the whole six months we had him, he handled himself like he was smart. He never got upset about anything, and he never bucked anybody off. He is just all class. It was like he thought he was here to win the Kentucky Derby (gr. I). He’s a movie star, really.”
The colt is the most expensive horse ever sold at public auction by the Eisamans. Shari Eisaman reported that the colt’s throat was examined endoscopically 12 times by veterinarians, indicating that there was a high level of interest among buyers.
“This is very exciting and fun for us,” said Gary Biszantz in a telephone interview soon after the colt was sold at OBS. “We were at the (Fasig-Tipton) Saratoga select yearling sale last year and had a couple horses in it, and we stayed for the New York-bred sale. We looked through all the horses, and my wife kind of picked this colt out, thinking he was very nice. I liked him a lot, too. We were only going to go to about $65,000 or $75,000 on him and at the last minute, I decided to bid $90,000. I said, ‘I just like this colt; we’re going to take a chance on him.’ We had been to Claiborne Farm to see Flatter and we liked him as a sire, but this horse was just a very, very good-looking yearling.”
Biszantz didn’t attend the OBS March auction. He was in Palm Springs, Calif., to play golf, so he logged on to a computer to watch the colt sell.
“We thought that $500,000 or $600,000 might be a very good price for him,” Biszantz said. “I would have been very thrilled with that. I was surprised he went for as high as he did. But Meg Levy (of Bluewater Sales), who sells horses for me, told me there was a lot of action on the horse. All the good buyers who were there had seen him and knew he was such an outstanding horse, and the way he traveled (over the track) was impressive.”
Biszantz and his wife owned 50% of the colt and Hough and Piser owned 25% apiece. Berkshire Stud bred the 2-year-old.
Sweet Dreams, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Bernadini, was the OBS March sale’s second-highest-priced horse and highest-price filly at $500,000. David Ingordo, in the name of Lane’s End Bloodstock, purchased her March 16 for a client whom he declined to identify.
“The filly will be sent to California,” he said. “The man who will own her is a very private individual, but he’s not new to the racing game. He’s building a broodmare band. He’s got a very good filly racing right now and he’s trying to add to his collection. Bernardini is one of the top stallions and she was flawless. We’re very excited to have her.”
Ingordo was standing with California-based trainer John Sadler during the bidding.
“She was the best filly in the sale; she has all the tools,” Ingordo said. “She vetted clean, jumped through all the hoops, and is the right type. The price was at the top end of our budget, but she’s a top-end filly. We were prepared to go to that number and then I don’t think we had much gas left in the tank.”
Sweet Dreams worked an eighth of a mile in :10 2/5 prior to the OBS March auction. Produced from the unraced Unbridled mare Turbo Dream, the dark bay or brown juvenile is a half sister to Dream Rush (by Wild Rush), the winner of five added-money events, four of which were graded. She captured the 2007 editions of the Darley Test (gr. I) and Prioress (gr. I) Stakes.
Niall Brennan Stables, as agent, consigned Sweet Dreams for her breeder, Peter Blum.
“We are very happy,” said Niall Brennan, who, like Barry Eisaman, is an OBS director. “I knew I was bringing a real gem here when I picked this sale for her. I thought she was going to be the only Bernardini in the sale -- and she was -- and I wanted her to be here to showcase the sale. I had a lot of confidence in the filly; I don’t think it mattered where we sold her. She’s been a beauty since the day we first put the tack on her. She exudes class.”
Sweet Dreams had not been offered previously at public auction.
The 121 horses that were sold during the second session grossed $14,983,000 and averaged $123,826. The buy-back rate was 19.9%.