Average Rises, Median Declines at OBS Calder Auction

The average price rose to a record height Tuesday during the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co.'s select juvenile auction at Calder Race Course in South Florida. But the middle market weakened, and with fewer 2-year-olds in training sold, the gross revenue declined for the second year in a row.

"I thought it was a solid sale," said Tom Ventura, the OBS general manager and director of sales. "We eked out another record for average. The median price was down $10,000 from last year, but well up from 2004. Last year's median of $120,000 was a sale record, and it was up 37.1% from the previous year, so I think this year's median was a solid number. There was a lot of (buyer) activity, and it was the same old story - the right horses brought plenty of money. We were unlucky in that some of the higher-priced pinhooks didn't make it to sale, which could have made a difference in the final numbers."

The 93 horses sold grossed $12,967,000, which was down 13.1% from last year's total of $14,921,000 for 109 head. The average climbed 1.8%, from $136,890 last year to $139,430 this year. The median, which is an indicator of the strength of the middle market, dropped 8.3% to $110,000. The buy-back rate rose from 31.0% in 2005 to 32.6% this year.

The top price for an individual horse was the $650,000 brought by a muscular chestnut Forest Camp colt that worked an eighth of a mile in :10 1/5. John Ferguson Bloodstock was the buyer.

Ferguson, who is the bloodstock manager for Sheikh Mohammed, did not attend the auction and neither did Dubai's ruler. But Sheikh Mohammed was represented by a team that included Jimmy Bell, the president of Darley Stud Management, and pinhooker Jimmy Gladwell, who assists in the horse selection process. Auctioneer Ryan Mahan, who was not in the stand at the time, made the bids for the colt while talking to Gladwell on a cell phone. Middle Eastern brewing mogul Ahmed Zayat, who lives in this country, also tried to buy the sale topper, but fell short.

"Our team really went through the sale very closely, and it was the consensus of everyone that we felt that this was a colt that could perform not only today, but tomorrow; we liked everything about him," Bell said. "He was very attractive on the shank and very professional on the racetrack. We look forward to seeing what he can do down the road. We're very, very happy. This was a horse that sort of jumped out at us a bit. He's the kind that you like to have in your racing program."

The colt is out of the 8-year-old unraced Holy Bull mare Holy Love. His second dam, Love's Exchange (by Key to the Mint), was a grade III winner, and she also produced stakes winner Delta Love (by Mr. Prospector).

Florida-based pinhooker Ciaran Dunne of Wavertree Stables consigned the colt as agent. Mike Akers of Dapple Bloodstock in Lexington said the colt was owned by a partnership that involves 10 to 12 people, including himself and Dunne. The partnership acquired the colt privately after he failed to sell for $160,000 at last year's Keeneland September yearling auction.

"We're quite happy with it," said Akers of the colt's sale-topping price at the OBS sale. "He's a nice colt, and we thought he would bring in the $600,000 to $800,000 range. We hoped he would be closer to $800,000, but this is what the market said he was worth. From day one, he's acted like a good horse physically and mentally. There hasn't been a straw in his path."