Boosted by the offspring from the first crops of promising Florida-based sires like grade I winners Yes It's True and Greenwood Lake, the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's August yearling sale roared out of the starting gate Monday. The select session posted significant increases in gross revenue, average price, and median price. The average of $44,215 was the second-highest ever, falling just short of the record of $44,945 that was established in 1999.
"Going into the sale, I felt good about it because I thought we had nice individuals," said Tom Ventura, the OBS director of sales and general manager. "But on top of that, I thought the first-year sires in Florida had more appeal than the ones in the past. We had Yes It's True, whose offspring had sold well at earlier sales, along with Tiger Ridge, Straight Man, and Greenwood Lake. I expected that we would improve off of last year despite the uncertainty in the economy and what had happened in a couple of the other sales (downturns in California and New York). But I don't think I would have predicted that we would have been just shy of a record."
OBS reported that 144 horses were sold for a gross of $6,367,000, which was up 21.3% from last year's total of $5,247,700 for the 135 yearlings sold. The median of $35,000 represented a 9.4% increase from 2002's comparable figure of $32,000, and the average was up 13.7% (from $38,872.
Another encouraging development involved the buy-back rate, which fell from 30.4% last year to 25.8% this year.
Eight horses -- including four by first crop sires Yes It's True, Straight Man, Greenwood Lake, and Anees--sold for six-figure prices, the same number as in 2002. This year's select session topper was a $190,000 colt by champion and Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) winner Anees, who was euthanized this past April in Kentucky after suffering a broken leg in a paddock accident. Kentucky bloodstock agent John Moynihan purchased the bay yearling for his longtime client Martin Cherry of West Palm Beach, Fla.
"I loved him physically; I thought he was one of the best horses here," Moynihan said. "He looks like he can run fast, but can also run far. He may not be strictly just a sprinter. I thought we would have to give $150,000 to $250,000 for him."
The colt was produced from the 10-year-old winning Corporate Report mare Higher Earnings, who is a half-sister to stakes winners Roguish Prince (by Robyn Dancer), Ascool (by The Cool Virginian), and National Energy (by Desert Flag). His breeders, Francis and Barbara Vanlangendonck, consigned him to sale in the name of their Summerfield sales agency. The Vanlangendoncks purchased Higher Earnings for only $8,500 at the 1998 Keeneland November breeding stock sale.
"We had a lot of people here, but I was a little worried because there weren't as many end users as I would have liked," Francis Vanlangendonck said. "But these guys stepped up, they bid on the nice horses, and they paid for them. They weren't overpaying for them, but they were paying solid prices for them, so how could you not have a good sale? There's no question that the first-year sires helped. My (yearlings by) new sires sold better than my (ones by) proven horses."
The sale runs through Thursday in Central Florida. The first of three open sessions begins Tuesday at 11 a.m. (EDT).