The select juvenile selling season starts Tuesday in a new location. The Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. February auction has been moved from South Florida to the auction firm's complex in Central Florida.
OBS officials said they are trying a new site because of conflicts this year with the Super Bowl, which was held on Feb. 4 near the sale's usual location, Calder Race Course. But they wouldn't rule out the sale remaining in Central Florida in the future. OBS director of sales and general manager Tom Venture described the company's approach to the situation as "wait and see."
The OBS February sale has been losing popularity with consignors in recent years because of the growing strength of the OBS March sale and its early date on the calendar, which means horses entered can't afford to suffer any training setbacks.
There are 192 horses in the 2007 catalog, the same number as last year. OBS officials had hoped for more.
Last year, when during a record-setting juvenile selling season, the auction's average price increased only 1.9%, but still managed to set a sale record. The number of horses sold, gross, and median price all dropped.
"I'm glad the sale is up here (in Ocala)," said consignor Niall Brennan. "I think it's a great thing. I don't think it will make a difference to the buyers. It never seems to matter where a sale is, if there's a good catalog, people show up. It will be a lot easier on consignors and less expensive (than going to South Florida). There also will bea lot less stress on the horss. I would love to see it stay in Ocala."
Another seller, Eddie Woods, agreed.
"I think it will be a great thing at the end of the day," he said. "I don’t see any negativity to it. If people want horses they will come to Ocala. There are some people worried that we won't get the casual buyer who would be down in South Florida for the season so to speak, but the casual buyers, we don't get them anyway anymore. Ocala has always been a good place to sell a hrose, and it’s turning into a great place. Just about every major outfit in the world has just-turned 2-year-olds training in Ocala. They'll come watch them train on the farm, and they'll go to the sale while they're here."
The auction starts at noon (EST) Tuesday.