The Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. February select sale of 2-year-olds in training couldn't keep pace with last year's edition. But the results were close enough to the 2006 figures to keep consignors from worrying too much, and the buy-back rate dropped.
Pinhooker Murray Smith described the prices as "fair," and many sellers were pleased with large crowd of buyers the auction attracted after moving from Calder Race Course in the Miami area to OBS' Central Florida base.
The gross revenue was down 1.0% from a year ago, and the average slipped 4.1%. The median sufered the biggest setback, falling 9.1%. The buy-back rate declined from 32.6% last year to 29.9% this year.
Twenty-one horses sold for $200,000 more apiece this year compared to 17 in 2006.
"The sale went extremely well," said Ocala Stud's Michael O'Farrell, who is the OBS chairman of the board and a consignor. "We were pleased with the attendance. Naturally, we were a little anxious about having the sale in Ocala because you never know if the people are going to travel here, but we were relieved to see all the people who were here. The good horses sold very well, and the middle of the market was somewhat under pressure, but that's the way all the sales have been. "
OBS reported that the 96 horses sold grossed $12,831,000 and averaged $133,656. The median was $100,000. Last year, the 93 horses sold grossed $12,967,000 and averaged $139,430, a record for the auction. The median was $110,000.
Smoke'n Coal was the top-priced horse, bringing $550,000 from the Darley operation of Dubai's ruler, Sheikh Mohammed. Jimmy Bell, the president of Darley America, signed the sale ticket. Bell's competition for the muscular colt included Sobhy Sonbol, representing Ahmed Zayat's Zayat Stables.
By Smoke Glacken, Smoke'n Coal is a full brother to grade II winner Smok'n Frolic, an earner of more than $1.5 million and a half-brother to another added-money winner, Cherokee Chase. Their dam, the 20-year-old Green Dancer mare Cherokyfrolicflash, won four times and was stakes-placed. Becky Boyd of Peacock Ridge consigned Smoke'n Coal for his breeder, Stride Rite Racing Stable.
Smoke'n Coal worked a quarter mile in :22 1/5.
Bell said Sheikh Mohammed was "keen" to buy Smoke'n Coal because of the success that Godolphin Racing had enjoyed with another Smoke Glacken offspring, Afrashad, who captured the 2006 Fall Highweight Handicap at Aqueduct, and also because of the positive reports about the gray colt from the Darley buying team.
"We were very pleased with the way he galloped out; he looked very strong," Bell said. "We thought he was a very well-made, solid sort, and he had pedigree that fit his looks."
Becky Boyd of Peacock Ridge was satisfied with the price.
"We felt like that's where he was going to go," she said.
While Smoke'n Coal's work wasn't close to being the sale's fastest, he stood out in other ways, according to Boyd.
"He was very smart and quick to learn," she said. "He also had a tremendous stride that was easy for him and a wonderful walk, and he was as correct a horse as you could possibly want."
A Stormy Atlantic -- Elise' colt was the auction's second-highest-priced horse at $500,000. Consigned by Nick de Meric, agent, he was purchased by trainer Barclay Tagg for Gretchen and Roy Jackson's Lael Stable. The colt is from the family of grade I winner Without Feathers.
De Meric, as agent, purchased the colt for only $60,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga New York-bred preferred yearling sale.