Consignors continued to praise the new Safetrack surface at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. (OBS) track Sunday as the auction firm conducted the second and final under tack show for its February select sale of 2-year-olds in training. On a sunny, breezy morning in Central Florida, a Cuvee filly turned in the quickest eighth of a mile work ever for an OBS juvenile auction when she covered the distance in :9 4/5 over a strip that has been described by sellers and other horsemen as fast, safe, and consistent. The time was a significant improvement over her clocking of :10 2/5 for an eighth during the February sale's first under tack show on Feb. 3.
"Not really," said the bay' filly's consignor, Luke McKathan of McKathan Farms, when asked if he was surprised by the 2-year-old's performance. "If you look at her video from last week, you can see that I had a little rider on her that couldn't ride a lick, and he bounced her off the rail twice. That's the reason I worked her back; he just messed it up so bad."
The filly is a member of her sire's first crop and is out of the 8-year-old Awesome Again mare Miss Awesome, who is from the family of grade III winner Midway Road. McKathan said he bred the filly in the name of North Star Equine. She is a half-sister to the winner Preachinupastorm (by Tiger Ridge).
Three horses shared the honors for the fastest quarter-mile work Sunday, each posting a time of :20 4/5 that equaled the fastest clocking for that distance in the first under tack show turned in by a Hold That Tiger-- French Factor colt. They were Wingingit, a Songandaprayer -- Mighty Rose colt consigned by Eisaman Equine, agent; a During -- Ruby Tango filly consigned by Shadybrook Farm, agent; and an Alke -- West Broadway colt consigned by Southern Cypress Stable, agent. In the first under tack show, Winginit and the During filly both breezed an eighth in :10 1/5. The Alke colt covered the distance in :10, sharing the fastest time honors with 13 other horses that day.
"I can't say enough good things about the track," said Eisaman Equine's Shari Eisaman. "It's like going from horse and buggy days to driving a car. It’s that big of a change. The horses are so sound, and they want to train. I've asked everybody, and they all say, 'My horses aren't having any problems.' The horses that have problems had them before they came here (to the sale grounds)."
Murray Smith, another consignor, also is a fan of the Safetrack surface.
"I've been working horses here since November, and I'm delighted with it," she said. "You can train every day. It's consistent every day. It doesn't matter if it pours down rain. It doesn't matter if it's cold. It doesn't matter if it’s hot. It doesn't matter if it's 7:00 in the morning or 11:00 in the morning or 4:00 in the afternoon; it's consistent, and the horses get over it nice."
Mike Mulligan of Leprechaun Racing called the new surface "absolutely fabulous." And Randy Hartley of Hartley/ De Renzo Thoroughbreds, who had worried about the change, now believes it was a good move on the part of OBS management.
"I was a little leery because of all the problems they're having with the synthetic track at Santa Anita (Park), but it's been great," Hartley said. "All my horses pulled up excellent, and they're better now (physically) than when they came over here (from the farm)."
Said another consignor, W.D. North: "There are going to be more horses that buyers will want to buy because there have been more fast works, and the fast horses aren't going to have some of the soundness issues that they had in the past. I love this track."
The second under tack show lasted only about an hour and a half as less than 50 horses worked. Tom Ventura, general manager and director of sales for OBS, couldn't remember an OBS under tack show ever being so short or consignors ever being so happy with the performance of their horses in the first under tack show.
"The first show was conducted under optimal conditions," said Ventura, who believed the new surface was a big factor in consignor satisfaction. "Once the fog lifted, everything was the way it needed to be, and the horses got to show themselves."
The OBS February auction is scheduled for Tuesday, with selling beginning at noon (EST).