Record-setting Wild Rush colt, during pre-sale workout.

Record-setting Wild Rush colt, during pre-sale workout.

Leslie Martin

OBS Sale Turns In Record-Setting Performance; Wild Rush Colt Brings $1.6 million

Business boomed Tuesday at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's February juvenile auction. The average price soared 25.2% to reach its highest level ever. In addition, OBS sold its most expensive juvenile ever when a rangy, powerful-looking Wild Rush colt brought $1.6 million.

"It was a phenomenal sale," said Tom Ventura, the OBS general manager and director of sales. "In general, the horse market has been doing well since the yearling sales, so that's part of it. But I also think this sale, in particular, has been very impressive in producing racehorses, so that has to be part of it, too. The people in this business do their research. The ones who have brought horses from us in the past have had success with them, so they've come back, and the new buyers have become aware of the quality of the horses in the sale. So far, there have been 12 stakes winners out of last year's sale."

The 112 horses sold at Calder Race Course in South Florida grossed $15,266,000 and averaged $136,504. The median was $87,500. Compared to a year ago, the gross soared 19.9% while the median rose 16.7%. The buy-back rate increased from 29.5% last year to 33.7% this year.

Twenty horses sold for $200,000 or more, setting a sale record while advancing from last year's total of 11.

John Ferguson, the bloodstock manager for Sheikh Mohammed purchased the sale-topping Wild Rush colt. Bidding over the telephone, with Jimmy Bell relaying his bids to the auction stand, Ferguson outlasted John Oxley, who was accompanied by trainer John Ward.

"We liked everything about him," said Bell of the colt. "We think he's got great potential. It looks like he could do it all at any time. He is a very athletic individual. He stood out for a reason."

Asked why he dropped out of the bidding, Oxley said: "I had already gone over my budget for him. He's a nice colt, but I would rather buy several for that amount."

The colt is out of the 8-year-old Meadowlake mare Freudenau and is from the family of graded winners Low Tolerance, Aspen Rose, Running Tide, and Kyle's Our Man. Florida pinhooker W.D. "Willy" North purchased the colt for only $45,000 at last year's OBS August yearling sale. He signed the name of his friend, fellow pinhooker Ricky Leppala, to the sale ticket.

"Ricky helps me to get financing for horses, so I use his name to buy horses and his line of credit," North explained.

As a yearling, the colt "had perfect balance," North remembered. "Everybody was cold on Wild Rush, but I still liked him. I thought he hadn't had a legitimate shot (as a stallion) yet."

Even though he was a May foal, the bay colt had plenty of size. He also started acting like he wanted to be a racehorse soon after North bought him.

"From day one, this colt just moved so free," North said. "Turned out in a field with other horses, he just outclassed them. He's never had a bad day training."

The colt's $1.6-million juvenile price was "beyond dreams," said North, who owned the colt in partnership with Norman Adams, a Florida resident who is in the construction business.

A Siphon -- Carsona colt and Horse Chestnut -- Baby Rabbit colt each sold for $500,000, the sale's second-highest price. Irish bloodstock agent Demi O'Byrne bought them both. He said they would be owned by Michael Tabor and that Derrick Smith probably would be a partner.

Tabor and Smith race Chapel Royal, purchased by O'Byrne for $1.2 million at the 2003 OBS Calder sale. The price was an OBS record until the Wild Rush colt sold this year.

Results from OBSC