Songandaprayer filly, sold for $190,000.

Songandaprayer filly, sold for $190,000.

Louise Reinagel

Songandaprayer Filly Tops OBS Opening Session at $190,000

A racy-looking bay filly by North America's leading first-crop sire, Songandaprayer, sold for $190,000 Monday to top the opening session of the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co.'s August yearling auction in Central Florida. Ocala horseman Barry Berkelhammer was the buyer, acting on the behalf of Wanda Polisseni of Rochester, N.Y. Polisseni races her horses in the name of Purple Haze Stable.

The opening session featured select yearlings, and OBS reported that 182 were sold in all. They brought a gross of $9,171,500, an average of $50,393, and a median of $40,000. All three figures fell short of the select session records set a year ago when 177 yearlings were sold. The gross declined less than one percent from $9,252,000; the average decreased 3.6% from $52,271; and the median slipped 11.1% from $45,000.

The buyback rate advanced from 21.3% last year to 30.3% this year. The number of horses sold for $100,000 or more grew from 16 to 20.

"In general, we're very pleased with how the select portion of the sale went," said Tom Ventura, the director of sales and general manager for OBS. "We hoped that we would hold our own in the current market, and I think we did that. We were coming off a record select session last year; the 2-year-old sales earlier this year weren't robust like they have been, and the yearling market started off this year a little flat. While the buy-back rate rose, it wasn't alarming. Thirty percent is acceptable."

The session-topping Songandaprayer filly is out of the 16-year-old winning Raja's Revenge mare Revenge Time and is a half-sister to grade III winner Badge (by Air Forbes Won).

"I thought she was the best horse in the sale, male or female," Berkelhammer said. "She just exuded class. She was an athlete, and she handled herself like a total princess. I just loved her."

Former Duke basketball star and NBA player Bobby Hurley, who raced Songandaprayer in a partnership, bred the filly. He purchased her dam (in foal to Chief Seattle)for $50,000 at the 2001 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky November mixed sale. The filly was foaled and raised at Cloverleaf Farms II near Reddick, Fla. Francis and Barbara Vanlangendonck of Summerfield consigned her to the OBS auction for Hurley.

"That was wonderful," said Francis Vanlangendonck. "Barry Berkelhammer has a great eye for a horse. She's a really nice filly. She looks like her dad. She has a great shoulder, a great hip, and a great walk. She looked the part."

Said Hurley, who still owns a one-third interest in Songandaprayer: "I'm very happy. I think it's a win-win situation. She's going to be in great hands, and she's a great representation of our stallion."

Songandaprayer has been moved from Florida, where he entered stud in 2003, to Kentucky.

The session's top-priced colt was a $175,000 son of Johannesburg out of the 15-year-old winning World Appeal mare Hasty Appeal. A member of his sire's first crop, the colt is a half-brother to Dr. Park (by Honor Grades, a grade III winner on the grass. Kentucky-based veterinarian David Lambert declined to comment after signing the sale ticket in the name of Thornton Racing. The Vanlangendoncks of Summerfield consigned the colt as the agents for his breeder, Luis D. Hechavarria.

New Jersey bloodstock agent Buzz Chace, representing John and Jennie Williams of Atlanta, purchased three horses for $445,000. They were a $160,000 Halo's Image – Fiesta Baby filly, a $160,000 Successful Appeal  – Prospecting Cassie colt; and a $125,000 Came Home – Quiet Lake filly. John Williams, a car dealer for Toyota and Kia, said he is returning to the horse business after being involved as member of a limited partnership about 15 years ago.

Also on the opening day of the OBS sale, Farnsworth Farms sold 39 preferred yearlings as part of the first phase of its complete dispersal. The horses, which were offered without reserves, grossed $404,700 and averaged $10,377. Their median was $8,500.

Michael Sherman, president of Farnsworth, bought 13 of the yearlings for his own account from the farm, which is owned by a family trust and is being sold for estate planning purposes. He plans to resell those horses next year at the OBS April sale of 2-year-olds in training.

"I was disappointed with the prices, but we're not geared to be yearling sellers," said Sherman. Farnsworth traditionally has offered its stock at juvenile auctions.

Sherman added: "I want to keep my hand in the horse business. I said I wasn't getting out when we announced the dispersal."

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

Hip by hip results