OBS August Sale Ends With Increases

The combined gross and average for the select and open portions enjoy upswings.

By Carlos E. Medina

The Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co.’s August yearling auction enjoyed a resurgence, with its results surpassing 2009’s key business figures even though the size of the catalog was down about 20%. The gross, average price, and median price all rose during both the select and open portions of the sale.

For Aug.26, the Central Florida auction firm reported gross sales of $1,862,350 for 232 head sold. The average price was $8,027, and the median price was $5,000. The buy-back rate was 24.7%. The gross rose 39.5% from last year's comparable session while the average increased 10%. The median grew 11.1%, and the buy-back rate fell to 24.7% from 33.2% in 2009.

The one select session, which opened the auction, and the two open sessions that followed registered a combined gross of $9,105,350 for 615 horses, handily eclipsing the $7,421,700 that 651 horses brought in four total sessions in 2009. The average price for the select and open portions of the sale combined was $14,805 compared to $11,400 in 2009. The buy-back rate fell to 24.5% from 34.5% last year.

“I think today, the sale held up pretty well,” said Tom Ventura, OBS general manager and director of sales. “It was consistent with the previous two days. The average was up; the median was up; it was a good sale overall,”

Ventura saw some strength in the market based on the overall numbers.

“The fact that the average went up and the buy-back went down is an encouraging sign,” he said. “If the buyback rate went down and the prices stayed the same, that would mean people were just selling to get rid of stock. This shows there is some confidence.”

The final day’s top-seller was a Congrats  filly which brought $64,000 from Hal Hatch, who bought the horse in partnership with Hartley/De Renzo Thoroughbreds.

“She’s a very fluid mover, clean over the ground. She looks like she will go long. She’s beautiful and Congrats is doing very well,” said Hatch, who plans to pinhook the filly.

Consigned by Perrone Sales, the filly is out of the stakes-placed Sultry Song mare, Singsingasong, whose three foals of racing age are all winners, including Zippin Along (by City Zip).

“A friend of mine appraised that horse at almost exactly what we paid for,” said Hatch.” We would have liked to have paid less, but we’re happy.”

Hatch, who has bought horses at the OBS sales for 20 years, was glad to see some improvement in the sale.

“Even though the economy is still bad, it seems like everybody is finding money. I know that we are catering to kind of a hobby, but people don’t want to give that up, especially in these times,” he said. “People want to enjoy and they will reach deep and make other sacrifices to keep doing what they are passionate about.”

Lou Gurino of Lou-Roe Farm, however, said that despite the increases, the breeders are still hurting.

“There is no way you’re breaking even,” he said. “Think about the time and feed you have in that animal, not to mention the stud fees and commissions. I think the market will turn around when you get closer to the end user, but we are in the wholesale side of it.”

Ventura agreed that breeders were suffering.

“It’s still a difficult year for the breeders because the breeders were basing their cost of production on the stud fees of 2008, which were based on sales of 2007. Since then, stud fees have come down, but breeders are still dealing with the higher stud fees of 2008,” he said.