Gross Increases At OBS, But Average And Median Fall

The Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's March select auction of 2-year-olds in training had its ups and downs during a two-day run that ended Wednesday. The number of horses sold increased significantly from a year ago, pushing the gross revenue rose to its second-highest level ever. But the average and median prices suffered moderate declines.

To OBS general manager and director of sales Tom Ventura, the results were satisfying, considering the circumstances under which the auction was conducted.

"With all the uncertainty in the world and the financial markets, I'm very pleased with where we ended up," he said. "Based on the fact that we sold nearly $3.5 million worth of horses and the buy-back rate was down, I think this was a very solid sale. There were plenty of buyers here. When there are other sales that have buy-back rates approaching 50%, we would rather be down 10% (in average) and selling more horses."

The 273 horses sold grossed $18,196,500 and averaged $66,654. The median was $50,000. Compared to 2002, the number sold and gross rose by 36.5% and 23.6%, respectively, while average and median decreased by 9.4% and 6.5%, respectively. The buy-back rate fell from 37.8% last year to 33.5% this year.

The most expensive horse sold in the final session was a Two Punch colt that was purchased by Sheikh Mohammed's bloodstock manager, John Ferguson, for $325,000. Handling the bidding over phone for Ferguson was Florida pinhooker Jimmy Gladwell, who has been working for the Sheikh's buying team during the juvenile selling season.

"The horse was very impressive on the racetrack both times he breezed, and he also galloped out very well," Gladwell said. "Back at the barn, he was good physically. He's a big, rangy colt, but he looks like he'll be an early horse. John (Ferguson) wanted to add some horses that could run early to the stable, and this one looks like he'll fit the bill."

The colt was produced from the 24-year-old winning Jungle Savage mare Gala Goldie and is a half-brother to stakes winners Gala Goldilocks, Gala de Oro, and Gala Gold Digger. Bred in Maryland by David and JoAnn Hayden's Dark Hollow Farm and William Beatson, the colt was a $46,000 buy-back at last year's Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Eastern fall yearling sale.

The colt's price at OBS "was beyond our expectations," David Hayden said. "People who are professionals in the business told us that he definitely had the best video of any horse in the sale. If you look at it, it will take your breath away, the way he moves over the ground. There is absolutely no wasted motion whatsoever. He's got the most fluid stride I've ever seen."

The colt worked an eighth of a mile in :10 2/5 and a quarter in :21 2/5, one of the fastest times for that distance.

A Hennessy colt that is a half-brother to Triple Crown candidate Atswhatimtalknabout was bought back for $390,000. M & H Training and Sales consigned the colt on the behalf of his breeder, television syndication mogul Roger King.

The figures for the final session were 136 horses sold for a gross of $8,561,500, an average of $62,952, and a median of $45,000.