OBS Select Session's Average Rises 9%

The median price increases 8% at the yearling sale's start.

By Carlos E. Medina
A filly by Any Given Saturday sold for $280,000 to top the select session of the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. August yearling auction in Central Florida. Purchased by Phil Lebherz Aug. 24, the big filly was the talk of the sale and set off a bit of a bidding war between Lebherz and Buzz Chace, who was the immediate underbidder.

“We beat Buzz? He’s been following us around all day. I knew he was up to something,” said Lebherz, joking shortly after the purchase.

Lebherz, an insurance executive from California, came to the sale with the filly in mind. His trainer, Jeff Bonde, has developed his own ranking system for buying prospects, and the filly, out of the Prized mare Ricki S, scored a perfect 10 on his scale.

“The only other one he’s ranked like that was Smiling Tiger, who just won the Bing Crosby Stakes (gr. I),” Lebherz said.

Smiling Tiger, however, only cost Lebherz $40,000 at the Washington Thoroughbred Breeders Association 2008 summer yearling sale.

“I think Jeff is trying to catch his breath right now,” Lehberz said after Bonde quickly walked outside after the bidding was over. The trainer and Mersad Metanovic represented Lehberz in the transaction.

After the price reached $260,000, Chace consulted with his client by cell phone and was given the go-ahead to bid again, but he quickly closed his phone after Lehberz went to $280,000.

“My limit was initially $250,000, but he wasn’t going higher than $270,000. She was a beautiful horse,” Chace said.

The filly, named Going Mavericki, was owned by Carlos Rafael and Steven Schriever, who also own Deco Farm in Ocala. The filly was consigned by Ocala-based Beth Bayer.

“I was hoping she would be the sales topper. She had a lot of action on her. She brought a hair more than we expected so we are very happy,” Bayer said.

Any Given Saturday, stood for a $25,000 stud fee this year at Sheikh Mohammed’s Darley breeding operation in Kentucky.

The day’s top-selling colt was a son of Malibu Moon  and the stakes-winning Unbridled's Song mare Ambition Unbridled. He brought $135,000 and was purchased by Nick de Meric. A consignor, de Meric hopes to resell the colt as a juvenile.

“Malibu Moon is an exciting sire of the moment, one who I’ve always liked and supported,” said de Meric. “This was a lovely colt, a tiny bit immature, but (with) a lot of scope and stretch to him. I think he is a horse that has a lot of blue skies in the pedigree. We rated him one of the highest of anything at the sale.”

Consigned by Legacy Bloodstock, the colt was owned by John Sykes, who owns CloverLeaf Farms II near Reddick, Fla., and Woodford Thoroughbreds in Kentucky.

“We are very pleased with the price. We are supporting this market down here and trying to bring some better horses. We thought he would be a horse that would fit the market nicely,” said Matt Lyons, general manager for Sykes’ Thoroughbred operations. “We’re very pleased that Nick got him. A lot of great horses have come out of his program.”

 After losing ground for two years, the select session enjoyed upswings, posting a gross of $4,713,500 for 131 head sold. The gross increased nearly 29.8% from 2009 when 110 horses sold for $3,632,500.

The average price grew 9%, from $33,023 last year to $35,981. And the median price rose 8%, from $25,000 to $27,000.

The buy-back rate of 27.6% was down from 39.9% in 2009.

“The sale went well. All the numbers went in the right direction. We sold more horses, the average went up, the median went up, and the buy back rate dropped,” said Tom Ventura, OBS general manager and director of sales. “We’ve had a couple of tough years. Along with the rest of the world, the horse market has suffered. Going into the sale, we hoped we had seen the bottom. I think there was a positive feel to the sale in general.”

The sale runs through Aug. 26, with two open sessions remaining.