Consignors expressed confidence in the market prior to the start of the Ocala Breedeers' Sales Co. (OBS) February select sale of 2-year-olds in training Tuesday in Central Florida. Tom Ventura, the OBS general manager of director of sales, also was feeling good heading into the first major auction of the juvenile selling season.
"The sale should be fine," Ventura said. "We had two excellent breeze shows, and the activity in the barns has been excellent. I believe we have a good group of horses. Hotel rooms in Ocala right now are at a premium -- they're hard to come by -- and that's a good gauge of the interest we have in the sale. We won't be short of buyers, that's for sure."
The auction was moved from Calder Race Course in South Florida to the OBS facility in Ocala this year, in part because of a conflict with the Feb. 4 Super Bowl, which was held near the Miami area racetrack. Some consignors worried that buyers who winter in the Miami would not show up, but most of the sale's regular shoppers have journeyed north, according to several sellers.
"I'm really pleased with the people I've seen here," said Justin Casse of Casse Sales. "It seems like everybody you would have seen down at Calder is here. There are a lot of high end buyers."
Said another consignor, Mike Mulligan of Leprechaun Racing: "I feel good. There's an appetite for horses, and all the top buyers are here. I'm looking forward to a good sale in Ocala and a good season."
Seller Nick de Meric also was anticipating a strong start.
"You're always slightly on tenterhooks because the first sale kind of sets the tone a little bit for the rest of the season," he said. "But I have to say that I've been very encouraged by the number of buyers in the barns and at the breeze shows. We have some significant players in town. I think all the indicators are very positive. There's not a large number of horses for these buyers to get around to see, but I think the quality is high."
The auction is scheduled to begin at noon (EDT). There are 192 horses listed in the catalog.