Joe DiOrio

Looking Back: Reflections on OBS Market

People talk about business at the OBS March select sale of 2-year-olds in training.

The Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. March select sale of 2-year-olds in training suffered downturns of 30% or more in its gross revenue, average price, and median price after posting all-time highs for those figures in 2008. Here’s what people had to say about the market at the auction, which was held March 17 and 18 in Central Florida:

Brandon Perry, Vision Sales: “In this economic situation, if you have the right horse, and it meets all the physical requirements, and it works well, there is plenty of money here. If you have a middle-of-the-road horse that maybe doesn’t quite meet the physical requirements or didn’t breeze exactly the way you wanted him to, it’s pretty tough to get him done.

“I think you have to be realistic with your reserves. All we’re trying to do is to to sell horses and make enough money to do this again next year and ride the wave. We may not do as well as we have in past years, but if we can get some horses sold--and, hopefully, sell some nice horses that go on to do well (at the races) like we have in the past--we’ll and be able to play at the summer yearling sales.”

Lance Robinson, Gulf Coast Farms, partner with pinhooker Jerry Bailey: “It is a little bit of a struggle in there. I think there still are people who will buy the good horse, but they aren’t going to pay as much (as they did in the past). When we’re buying in the same market that we’re selling in again it will be OK, whether the market is up or down or whatever.”

Nick de Meric, consignor: “Obviously, there has been a little bit of a correction in the marketplace, which we all kind of knew there would be going in. It’s not like there isn’t a market at all. There is a perfectly healthy market, it’s just that we’ve all had to adjust a little bit. I’m gratified to see the volume of people out here who are looking to buy racehorses, and if they get some bargains here or there, I can’t hold it against them; I’m just glad they’re here.

“I’m hoping that when the dust all settles and when they kind of crunch the numbers, that we’re in a position where we can approach the yearling marketplace in a similar manner to the way we have in the past. I’m hoping we can afford horses that in other years we wouldn’t have been able to afford. I certainly don’t wish any bad luck on yearling sellers, but at the same time, we were buying in a stronger market last year than what we’ve been selling in. That’s nobody’s fault, but it makes it a bit tough in spots this year.

“We’ve been doing this a long time, and we know how to duck and dive and bob and weave. In good times, it (yearling-to-juvenile pinhooking) is not an easy game, so in these kind of times its doubly hard.  Your mistakes are exposed twice as obviously in this kind of environment; they kind of jump out and grab you by the throat. On the other hand, you know there’s still a good demand for quality offerings and one just hopes to have enough of those to carry a few of the misdemeanors.”

Kevin McKathan, consignor: “On my end, it feels like it’s really tough, but you’re leading horses up there and getting them done. The gross and average are down, but it’s not horrible. We bought in one market and we’re having to sell in another, so we need to stay realistic and adjust the values on our horses.

“I’ll go into the (2009) yearling market with a bit of caution, but I approached it that way last year. I didn’t string myself out, way out there. It wasn’t because I didn’t want to; I just couldn’t seem to get it done. I got outbid all year long on what I wanted, and I was trying to stay realistic on the prices, so I’m in a different spot from some people. A lot of these guys have got a lot of money in these horses and it is a lot tougher for them. While it’s still tough for me, I’ve got reasonable prices in my horses.

“The top end seems to be plenty strong, and if you have a good horse there, I think you’re in good shape. But there doesn’t seem to be a lot of buyers for the $50,000 to $100,000 horses. I think the economy has taken a lot of those guys out of the market. The doctors and lawyers who like to race two or three horses a year,  I just don’t think they feel like they’re able to get involved and they’re just kind of pulling back. On a whole, I think a lot of our middle market buyers have been lost to racing syndicates. The guys who used to buy one or two or three horses a year, they’re getting into a lot of these syndicates and spreading their money around and getting a lot more play for their dollar.”