Chestnut colt who impressed in early-week work takes top dollar at first session.

Chestnut colt who impressed in early-week work takes top dollar at first session.

Leslie Martin

OBS Auction Gets Juvenile Selling Season Off to Record-Setting Start

The Ocala Breeders' Sales Co.'s select auction Feb. 8 turned in a solid performance, posting its highest ever average and median prices even though there was no seven-figure horse for the first time since 2002. Only the gross revenue suffered, but the setback was minor.

"I thought the sale was pretty stout," said Florida horseman J.B. McKathan, who buys horses for clients of trainer Bob Baffert.

The median soared 37.1% to $120,000, shattering the previous mark of $95,000 that had stood since 2000. In another encouraging development, the buy-back rate fell from 33.7% to 31%.

The 109 juveniles that sold grossed $14,921,000 and averaged $136,890. The gross dropped 2.3% from a year ago, when 112 horses were sold, but the average edged upward less than 1% from the former sale record of $136,304 set in 2004.

"We didn't have the breakout horse, for whatever reason, and Darley (Sheikh Mohammed) didn't buy any horses, but we were still able to squeak out another record average," said Tom Ventura, the general manager and director of racing for OBS. "The median increased nearly 40%, which showed the depth of the quality of the horses in our catalogue. Before the sale, I thought the catalogue was our strongest ever top to bottom."

A flashy chestnut Dance Master colt was the most expensive horse sold, bringing a $600,000 bid from trainer Steve Klesaris, who was acting on the behalf of Jeffrey Puglisi. The colt is the first foal produced from the 10-year-old stakes-placed Tour d'Or mare More d'Amour, who is a full sister to stakes winner Janluray.

"I'm very, very excited about that colt," Puglisi said. "He has an amazing body, and he's a great mover. We weren't sure he was going to bring this kind of money, but we got a little more excited about him as we kept going back to look at him, and we decided that we would really make a stand to get him."

Leprechaun Racing, as agent, consigned the sale topper after purchasing him for $63,000 at last year's Fasig-Tipton July select yearling auction. The colt was among the OBS sale's fastest workers at a quarter of a mile, covering the distance in :21 2/5.

"He's the perfectly balanced, perfect athletic physical horse that the whole world is looking for," said Mike Mulligan of Leprechaun Racing. "I'd love to have 20 like him every year."

The team of Klesaris and Puglisi also purchased the auction's second-highest-priced horse, a $550,000 Phone Trick – Lark Creek colt as well as a $300,000 son of Artax – Bonnie Byerly. Puglisi heads Puglisi & Co., a New York-based securities brokerage firm.