OBS Yearling Sale Gets Off to Record-Setting Start

The Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. August yearling sale roared out of the starting gate Monday in Central Florida, setting records for gross revenue and average price for its select portion. The median price equaled the select session's all-time high. In addition, 31 horses brought six-figure prices, with a $300,000 son of Smart Strike leading the way.

"I'm not really that surprised that the upper end was so strong," said Tom Ventura, the OBS general manager and director of sales. "I think the consignors stepped up this year with some good horses. Going through the horses before the sale, I thought we had a good group and a deeper group at the top than we've had before. The activity in the barns showed signs that we were at least having a lot of action, and it turned out to be seen in the sale's results as well."

The 176 horses sold grossed $10,427,500 and averaged $59,247. The median was $45,000. Compared to a year ago, the gross and average grew 13.7% and 17.6%, respectively, while the median climbed 12.5%.

During the 2005 select session, 182 horses were sold for a gross of $9,171,500, an average of $50,393, and a median of $40,000. Those figures do not include the 39 horses in the Farnsworth Farms dispersal that also were sold on last year's opening day. They grossed $404,700.

The previous select session records were a gross of $9,252,000, and an average of $52,271 in 2004. The all-time high for median also was posted for the first time that year. If last year's Farnsworth yearlings are included, the record gross for an OBS August yearling sale opening day is $9,576,200 in 2005.

This year's buy-back rate was 32.3%, up from 30.2% in 2005 (with the Farnsworth yearlings excluded).

Kentucky-based trainer Kenny McPeek purchased the session-topping Smart Strike colt, a handsome chestnut.

"He's the best horse in the sale, easily," McPeek said. "He's a beautiful horse; he's one of the best Smart Strikes I've ever laid eyes on. He's an unbelievable colt, flawless. He could be any kind. He'll have speed, but it will carry. The price was more than I thought it would be."

McPeek declined to reveal who will own the colt, but said it was one of his clients.

Eddie Martin's Martin Stables South bred and consigned the colt. Martin got the Storm Bird mare Cent Nouvelles carrying the colt, for $40,000 from Paramount Sales, agent, at the 2004 Keeneland November breeding stock auction. Cent Nouvelles, a 14-year-old placed daughter of Storm Bird, is a half-sister to 1989 Alcibiades Stakes (gr. II) winner Special Happening and a full-sister to the stakes-placed Red Soul, who won three times.

"It's nice to know that you have a horse with quality that many top horsemen were saying was the best horse in the sale," Martin said. "As a breeder, that's always what you aspire to, trying to produce good horses. I kind of know what a lottery winner feels like."

The session's second-highest-priced yearling, at $235,000, was a bay daughter of Whywhywhy, consigned by Kimett Powell-Aldoff's On Course Sales, agent. Florida pinhooker Niall Brennan signed the sale ticket in the name of TYB Stable.

"I loved the filly," Brennan said. "She looks like a runner. She reminds me a lot of the good fillies that we've had. She's very hardy, very tough, and she has a great disposition. I didn't think I would have to give that much for her, but I thought she was very special."

The filly is out of the 8-year-old Ghazi mare First Class Act, who was unplaced in two career races. First Class Act is a half-sister to stakes winner Lets Just Do It. Other family members include South African champion Badger's Coast.

Kiwi's Song, a bay filly by Songandaprayer, sold for the session's third-highest price of $230,000. Florida horseman Barry Berkelhammer bought Kiwi's Song for the Select Stable of Jerry and Feye Bach. The Bachs raced Take Charge Lady, who captured the 2002 and 2003 editions of the Overbrook Spinster Stakes (gr. I) and the 2002 Ashland Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland.

"I thought she was a beautiful athlete," said Berkelhammer of Kiwi's Song. "She looks like she'll be real fast, and real early, and very precocious. I loved her, but I didn't think she would cost that much money. I had the owner (Jerry Bach) on the phone, and he was willing to keep going. He was comfortable, so I was comfortable. She was the right horse."

Kiwi's Song is out of the 13-year-old Java Gold mare Kiwi Sunshine, who scored in the Lady Dean Stakes at Pimlico and the Sufolk Downs Oaks in 1996. The $230,000 filly is a half-sister to four winners.

Kentucky-based Highclere consigned Kiwi's Song as agent for Charlie Dobbs and Frank Berris, who purchased her privately earlier this year. Dobbs owns and trains show Quarter Horses, and Berris also is in the Quarter Horse business. Lee Rattray bred the filly, which was a $75,000 buy-back at this past January's OBS winter mixed auction.

"She's handled the pressure and the stress of being out here like a consummate professional," said Highclere's Stuart Morris. "She's a real, real quality filly. She's obviously is by one of the sires of the moment right now, Songandaprayer, and she is a classy horse. She's very powerful and would look to be a very precocious early kind of 2-year-old, but she has enough length and scope that you would hope she would go on and be a nice 3-year-old."

The fourth-highest-priced select yearling was a $200,000 Fusaichi Pegasus  colt out of the 16-year-old winning Secretariat mare Lady Secretary. He is from the family of Canadian Horse of the Year Afleet and is a half-brother to four winners.

Patrice Miller, vice president of EQB, signed the sale ticket. EQB is a Pennsylvania-based bloodstock agency and consulting firm that uses high-tech methods to evaluate horses.

"It's for somebody new in the business," Miller said. "He (the new owner) is going to race him. He's a beautiful horse with great overall balance. Obviously, in my book, he had a big cardio. I like him lot. The sire has been a little off, but he's quite a good sire. He (the colt) was a good value at that price."

Celebrity Farm consigned the dark bay or brown colt as agent.

The OBS auction continues through Friday with four open sessions. Selling begins each day at 11 a.n. (EDT).