The Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. yearling sale didn’t get pounded by Tropical Storm Fay, which rolled ashore in Florida Aug. 19. Other than some hard rain, a brisk breeze, and a lot of threatening clouds, there wasn’t much bad weather during the first of the auction’s three open sessions. But the market did get battered by the reality of what happens to the demand for horses with modest pedigrees and physical attributes when the American economy is in the midst of a slump.
Taking the biggest hit was the session’s median price, which plunged 30.0% from a year ago. The gross revenue dropped 18.3%, while the number of horses sold fell 6.4%. The average price declined 12.7%.
“Basically, we’re seeing the results of the overproduction of mediocre stock,” said Florida pinhooker Eddie Woods. “Here it is. This is what the whole thing has evolved into. There are too many mares (in production); it’s a bad economy; and, boom, it gets ugly.”
The 204 horses sold grossed $2,334,500 and averaged $11,444. The median was $5,600, and the buy-back/no bid rate was 37.6%. During the first open session of 2007, the 218 yearlings sold grossed $2,856,600 and averaged $13,104. The median was $8,000.
Woods, as agent, purchased the session’s highest-priced horse, a $100,000 filly from the first crop of grade II winner Western Pride. The flashy chestnut yearling is the first foal out of the 9-year-old Chimes Band mare So Much More, who captured the 2004 Treasure Chest Stakes at Delta Downs and earned $381,516. So Much More’s efforts also included third-place finishes in the 2006 First Lady Handicap (gr. III) at Gulfstream Park and the 2003 Gardenia Handicap (gr. III) at Ellis Park and Turfway Breeders’ Cup Stakes (gr. III).
“She’s a beautiful filly with a very strong dam’s side,” Woods said. “The stallion is probably not getting a lot of respect right now, but he was a really good racehorse, a tough horse. She looked a bit like him. It was a bit of a stretch, but what are you going to do?”
Woods said he bought the filly for a client who “likes to fly under the radar.” She will be offered at sale of 2-year-olds in training next year.
William Schettine bred the filly. He owns Signature Stallions near Reddick, Fla., and the yearling was consigned to the OBS sale by Schettine’s Signature Sales. Western Pride, who has a $2,500 stud fee, stands at Signature Stallions.
“A lot of the pinhookers and other buyers were on her; she’s just an awesome filly,” said Bill Bazzell, the general manager of Signature Stallions. “You couldn’t find fault with her, and she presented herself very well. She’s always been nice; she was a standout as a foal. Her sire is probably the best value in Florida. He won three Derbys (the Ohio, gr. II, Calder, gr. III, and West Virginia Derbys); he was a winner as a 2-year-old; and he earned nearly $1.3 million. You get a lot for your $2,500.”
While the filly’s $100,000 price was something to celebrate, Bazzell said he found the market at OBS to be “real spotty. The good horses sell well, but a lot of other really nice horses are, unfortunately, getting overlooked. There are quite a few nice individuals left here even though they may not have a catalog page that is all that fancy.”
The session’s highest-priced colt, at $80,000, was a son of Hennessy, purchased by Mike and Britt Mulligan’s Leprechaun Racing, as agent. Thoroughstock, agent, consigned the chestnut yearling, which is the first foal out of the 6-year-old winning Afternoon Deelitesmare Stephanootz, who is a half-sister to grade I winner Lion Tamer(by Will’s Way).
The OBS sale continues through Aug. 21, with two more open sessions. The auction started Aug. 18 with a select session in which the number of yearlings sold, gross, average, and median were all down.
In other news, Dr. Cara Erwin-Oliver, whose pregnancy and Aug. 15 due date didn’t keep her from working hard to market her Marion Bloodstock consignment on the OBS sale’s opening day, has given birth. A sign announcing the arrival of her baby boy, who weighed 7 pounds, 12 ounces, was posted at Marion Bloodstock’s Barn 2 location Aug. 19. The baby's name is Carson Erwin Oliver. His father is pinhooker Terry Oliver.