Inspecting horses at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. fall mixed sale.

Inspecting horses at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. fall mixed sale.

Joe DiOrio

Will Trends Continue at OBS Mixed Sale?

Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. fall mixed sale scheduled for Oct. 6-8.

With a yearling auction season all but over, and one that delivered a sharp dose of economic reality, industry eyes will be fixed on the upcoming Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. fall mixed sale, the unofficial annual kick-off to the campaign of selling of broodmares and weanlings.

The sale, which has cataloged 1,000 lots, is scheduled to begin Oct. 6 with a consignor-preferred session, followed Oct. 7-8 by open sessions. The event is two days shorter than last year’s event, with one less each of consignor-preferred and open sessions, and 505 less catalogued horses entered.

At one time regarded as the biggest of all OBS sales before 2-year-olds in training took center stage at the Ocala, Fla., operation in recent decades, this year’s mixed sale will be under a microscope of sorts following a series of yearling auctions that regularly posted declining numbers.

But OBS general manager and director of sales Tom Ventura, who attended several days of the Keeneland September yearling sale, said while he expects declining trends to continue throughout the auction industry, he doesn’t expect a dramatic downturn in numbers from the company’s 2007 edition.

“At this point, our expectations are that the trends of the yearling sales will follow,” said Ventura. “The Thoroughbred sales market has been resilient to all of the (economic) uncertainty of the last few years, and we are feeling the effects of that now.”

“But the decent horses have sold well,” he continued. “The portion that seems to be impacted the most is the lower end of the market, and I think that will continue.”

But at least one leading consignor said many feel the upcoming sale is a “little scary.”

“People are concerned, not sure what is going to happen,” said Beth Bayer, who expects her 63-head catalogued consignment to be roughly cut in half due to scratches. “We are all kind of scared. People are still buying the best horses – and I emphasize best horses – but others are passing on this year’s sales in hopes that things will look better next year.”

Bayer, whose catalogue consignment is second at the auction only to Summerfield sale agency’s 122, said there is another potential negative factor to consider: the close timing of sales in recent months.

“Some people have gone from sale to sale – they may be tired,” she said. “But the locals could always come out and make a big impact.”

Last year’s two consignor-preferred sessions, down from three such days in 2006, yielded an average of $26,753, a median of $20,000, and a buy-back rate of 49.1%.

The sale features 19 first-crop sires of weanlings, including progeny of Kentucky-based stallions Bandini, Bellamy Road, Da Stoops, Forest Grove, Rockport Harbor, Sharp Humor, and War Front. Among the Florida-based stallions of first-crop weanlings are Congrats, Giacomo, and Pomeroy, among others.

The sale features mares in foal to sires whose first crops arrive in 2009, including those in-foal by Discreet Cat, Flashy Bull, Political Force, Saint Anddan, Stevie Wonderboy, Stormello, Sun King, and Wilko.

Included in the catalog are 517 weanlings, 460 broodmares or broodmares prospects, and 23 yearlings. As of Oct. 3, 163 lots, or 16.3% of the catalog, are listed as outs. Bidding begins at 10:30 a.m., EST, each day.