Favorite Trick Filly Brings $100,000 Wednesday at OBS

A Favorite Trick filly, whose value increased dramatically from earlier this year, was in the spotlight Wednesday at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co.'s August yearling sale, going to Northern California trainer Lonnie Arterburn for $100,000. She was the only six-figure horse sold on the third day of the five-day auction in Central Florida.

"She's a racing-looking filly; she looks like she's ready to run now," Arterburn said. "She had a great walk and a great overall look. If she isn't fast, then there's no such thing."

Arterburn will own the filly in partnership with Ron Stolich and Joe Norton. They plan to resell her next year as a 2-year-old in training. Arterburn and his family are moving to the Ocala area this winter to set up a business that will involve breaking and training, pinhooking, racing, and breeding.

The session-topping filly is out of the winning 18-year-old Marshau's Dancer mare Marshua Mella and is a half-sister to two stakes-placed runners, Mello But Bold (by Nasty and Bold) and Slews Mello Fello (by Slewacide). Mello But Bold is the dam of grade III winner Injustice.

A Kentucky-bred, the $100,000 filly was consigned by Jolane McAlister of Ocala-based Tara Stables. Red Roof Farms bought her for only $5,000 earlier this year at the Keeneland January horses of all ages sale.

"We were thinking $40,000 to $50,000; we were ecstatic," said McAlister after the filly sold at OBS. "It was a dream come true, really."

McAlister, who is married to trainer Joe McAlister, said the filly was owned by one of her clients who wished to remain anonymous.

At the Keeneland January sale, the filly "was very light and nervous; she was backward," McAlister remembered. "But she had good structure, and she moved well. We swam her, and we lunged her, and we just basically fed the stew out of her -- that's a Southern expression -- and she totally blossomed. She put on weight; she grew. She just did everything right. You don't always get that lucky."

The results for Wednesday's entire session were 188 horses sold for a gross of $2,087,100, an average price of $11,102, and a median price of $6,250. The gross plunged 28.9% from the sale's comparable session in 2004, when the total was $2,933,600 for the 234 horses sold. The average dropped 11.4%, from $12,537 last year to $11,102 this year. The median fell 21.9% from $8,000 to $6,250. The buyback rate rose sharply, from 18.2% to 29.3%.

"The numbers are reasonable, but I was a little disappointed with the increase in the buy-back rate," said Tom Ventura, the director of sales and general manager for OBS. "Last year, the buy-back rate of 18.2% was a very good number. Twenty-nine percent isn't a bad number, but it's disappointing to see it go up like that. It's still too early to say that the (increased) number of horses (in the catalogue) would impact it; we'll see how tomorrow and Friday go."

The OBS sale started Monday with a select session and preferred yearlings from phase one of the Farnsworth Farms dispersal. There are open sessions Tuesday through Friday. The combined figures for the first three days of the auction were 621 horses sold, a gross of $14,285,900, and an average of $23,005. Last year, during the first three days, 651 horses were sold for a gross of $15,447,300 and an average of $23,729.

Thursday's session begins at 11 a.m. (EDT).

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