Hip #64, Red Vow, a colt by Broken Vow out of the Strawberry Road mare Sedona Berry was the first session's top-selling horse, bringing $625,000.

Hip #64, Red Vow, a colt by Broken Vow out of the Strawberry Road mare Sedona Berry was the first session's top-selling horse, bringing $625,000.

Joe DiOrio

OBS March Sale Surges at the Start

Gross, average price, and median price all are ahead of last year's results

With four horses bringing more than $500,000 apiece, the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. (OBS) March select sale of 2-year-olds in training blasted out of the starting gate Tuesday in Central Florida.

The first session’s powerful performance was a welcome development at a time when the news is flooded with negative reports about the American economy and nearly every business seems to be struggling. The gross revenue, average price, and median price all were significantly ahead of last year’s results.

“It started out strong, and it never eased up,” said pinhooker Don Graham. “I was just here watching, and I thought it was a great sale. I wish I had some horses in it.”

OBS reported that 110 horses were sold for a gross of $15,734,500. Their average was $143,041, and their median price was $90,000. Compared to a year ago, the number sold was down 12.7% from 126, but the gross was up 29.2% from $12,182,000. The average soared 47.9% from $96,683 while the median advanced 12.5% from $80,000. The buy-back rate dropped slightly, from 36.0% in 2007 to 35.7% this year.

“It was beyond expectations,” said Tom Ventura, the OBS general manager and director of sales.

And he predicted the surge could continue in Wednesday’s second and final session.

“I thought that each day on the racetrack (during the under tack shows) and going through the barns that the top horses were equally separated between the two days,” he said, “but we’ll have to see what happens tomorrow.”

Red Vow, a well-proportioned bay son of Broken Vow , was the first session’s top-selling horse, commanding a $625,000 final bid from Sobhy Sonbol, who was representing entrepreneur Ahmed Zayat’s Zayat Stables. Sonbol had to hold off trainer David Carroll to get the colt.

“He’s beautiful physically, and Broken Vow is a very nice stallion,” said Sonbol, who added that he ended up paying more than he had planned for the colt. “He is out of a Strawberry Road mare, and he looked a lot like Strawberry Road. He’s an awesome horse; we liked him a lot. We thought he was the nicest horse in the sale. He was definitely ‘The One.’ I know (Hall of Fame trainer) Bill Mott liked him a lot, and there’s a good chance he’ll go to him.”

The colt’s dam, 16-year-old Sedona Berry, was unplaced in her only career race, but she produced Eishin Hampton (by Dynaformer), who scored in the 2004 Saudi Arabia Royal Cup in Japan, and Level Red (by Aptitude), who finished third in the 2007 San Felipe Stakes (gr. II).

Bo Hunt and Terry Oliver’s O & H Bloodstock consigned the $625,000 colt, which had been purchased for $65,000 by Earl Silver and Mike Eiserman of Third Street Partners at the 2007 Keeneland September yearling sale. Prior to the OBS auction, the colt worked a quarter mile in :21 2/5.

“We knew he would sell well,” Hunt said. “We were hoping for $300,000 or $325,000, and then he brought double what we thought he would. It was just a great surprise even though we thought he was a nice horse.”

A muscular Pure Prizecolt and a sturdy Mr. Greeleyfilly each brought $550,000.

The son of Pure Prize will be joining Sheikh Mohammed’s racing operation after being purchased by Darley USA president Jimmy Bell in the name of the Dubai ruler’s bloodstock manager John Ferguson.

“This is a colt that we liked very early on from the first breeze show,” Bell said. “Every eighth (of a mile) that he went, each one seemed better than the one before. He’s a colt that obviously prepped very well, and this was a colt that after John  talked to Sheikh Mohammed, he felt this was a colt that we wanted for our program. John wasn’t here (at the sale), but with all the modern technology, he was very close at all times.”

Mike and Britt Mulligan’s Leprechaun Racing consigned the colt as agent after acquiring him for $30,000 at the 2007 OBS August yearling auction. The 2-year-old worked an eighth of a mile in :10 prior to the OBS March sale.

“These horses that obviously perform well certainly have a great degree of athleticism about them,” Bell said. “Not only did he show it on the track, but he showed it on the shank as well. He’s just a very balanced individual. He’s uncomplicated, very straightforward.”

The colt is out of the 14-year-old winning Time for a Change mare Time for a Crown and is a half-brother to Banga Ridge (by Snow Ridge), who captured this year’s Darley OBS Sprint Stakes.

Kentucky horseman Tom Gentry signed the sale ticket for the $550,000 Mr. Greeley filly. He said she will be going to Irish trainer Jim Bolger, who is known for his success with the stallion’s offspring. The dark bay or brown filly is the first foal out of the 7-year-old unraced Tale of the Cat mare Bacardi Cat, who is a half-sister to grade I winner Jade Hunter (by Mr. Prospector).

“What didn’t I like about her? I just thought she was beautiful,” Gentry said. “She has all the parts and pieces in the right places. She’s a very racy and well-balanced filly. If you go by conformation, she’s hard to fault.”

Jerry Bailey Sales Agency, as agent, was the filly’s consignor. Bred by Gulf Coast Farms, headed by Jerry Bailey and Lance Robinson, she was a $245,000 buyback last year at the Keeneland September yearling auction. Prior to the OBS March sale, she breezed an eighth of a mile in :10 2/5.

A sleek bay Lemon Drop Kid colt sold for $525,000 to trainer John Kimmel, who was acting on behalf of Eli Gindi.

“He (Gindi) lives in Manhattan, and he’s in the real estate business,” Kimmel said.

The colt is out of the 9-year-old stakes-winning Storm Creek mare August Storm and was consigned to the OBS auction by Off The Hook, agent. Off The Hook bought him for $150,000 at Keeneland last September. The colt worked an eighth of a mile in :10 1/5 prior to the OBS March auction.

“There wasn’t much not to like about him,” Kimmel said. “I liked the way the horse looked physically. He’s got tremendous balance, a beautiful eye, scope, a great walk, and good bone. He looked good on the racetrack, and he’s good on his technical parameters – X-rays and scoping.  Lemon Drop Kid is coming around as a stallion.”

Added Kimmel: “He gave me a lot of reminders of a horse like (grade I winner) Premium Tap. He’s a beautiful, well-balanced colt with no white on him and with a good eye, a good foot, and a good head on him – all the kinds of things we kind of look for when we’re trying to buy a horse. I think he’s going to be quick enough to run as a 2-year-old, but he’s got breeding that says he could stay on; that’s the other thing that I like about him.”

The OBS March auction’s Wednesday session will begin at 11 a.m. (EDT).