With the weak economy continuing to have a negative impact on all sorts of businesses, Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. executive Tom Ventura has modest expectations for the auction firm’s August yearling sale in Central Florida.
“I think it will be an opportunity for buyers to buy at reasonable prices,” said Ventura, who is the general manager and director of sales for OBS. “There certainly are not going to be significant increases. We’re just hoping to hold our own compared to last year. My guess is that when it’s all over, we’ll see some declines, but we hope they’ll be minimal.”
There are 1,151 horses cataloged for the auction, a total that is down 14.2% from last year’s figure of 1,342. The sale opens with a select session of 200 horses Aug. 24, and it will be followed by three days of open sessions Aug. 25-27.
“The group of horses that we’ve put together for the first day is a very solid group,” Ventura said. “I think the sire power is better than it was last year.”
The sale has yearlings by seven of North America’s top eight second-crop sires by progeny earnings (as of Aug. 21). The seven are Medaglia d'Oro , Birdstone , Speightstown , Lion Heart, Tapit , Chapel Royal, and Even the Score . Offspring of Medaglia d'Oro and Birdstone combined to sweep this year's Triple Crown. Medaglia d'Oro's Rachel Alexandra captured the BlackBerry Preakness Stakes (gr. I), and Birdstone's Mine That Bird and Summer Bird scored in the Kentucky Derby Presented By Yum! Brands (gr. I) and the Belmont Stakes (gr. I), respectively.
“Those are horses that have certainly proven their worth as stallions on the track,” Ventura said, “It seems to be a common theme at the sales this year that proven sires are the ones that people are gravitating more towards, and we’ve got yearlings by horses that meet that qualification. We’ve also got yearlings by the leading first-crop sire, Wildcat Heir, who stands in the Ocala area.”
The auction will start each day at 10:30 a.m.
Last year, when the U.S. economy already was in a recession, the August yearling sale suffered downturns of 20.5% in the number of horses sold and 34.6% in gross revenue. The average price dropped 17.7%. The buy-back rate rose to 34.7% from 28.4% in 2007.
The trends for the select session only were setbacks of 31.1% in the number sold, 40.3% in gross, and 13.3% in average. The buy-back rate was 42.5%, up from 25.1% the previous year.