Ventura Hoping For Stable Market At OBS March Sale

Even though the world is full of uncertainty, Ocala Breeders' Sales Company executive Tom Ventura is hoping for another steady performance from the March select auction of 2-year-olds in training, which begins Tuesday in Florida. Last year, the average and median prices both posted modest increases, with the former setting a sale record and the latter reaching its second-highest level ever. The gross revenue declined by only 2.9%.

"There is the threat of war and the stock market is questionable, but I think we'll still have a decent sale," said Ventura, the OBS general manager and director of sales. "The interest from buyers has been pretty good. We've sent out at least 100 videos (from the first under tack show) on request, and that is higher than last year. If we can push the average a little bit above last year and keep the buy-backs reasonable, we'll be satisfied."

Traditionally, the auction has offered juveniles with values in the lower to middle ranges while depending on domestic shippers for much of its business. But the price for an individual horse has soared as high as $1,050,000.

"We will get a better read on the middle market than we did in the earlier sales (in South Florida and California), which are a little different because they have smaller catalogues and are a little higher end," Ventura said. "This sale has 500 horses instead of 200 horses, so it attracts a broader group of buyers."

The two-day auction runs through Wednesday, with sessions beginning each day at 11 a.m. (EST).

On Thursday, OBS will conduct a sale of 2-year-olds in training for Frank Stronach at his Adena Springs South near Ocala. During the auction's first edition last year, 40 horses were sold for a gross of $945,500, an average of $23,638, and a median of $20,000. Nearly all the juveniles were offered with reserves.

"They (Stronach and his associates) were very pleased with how the sale went last year, and the format will be similar," Ventura said.

As in 2002, there were no works during the under tack shows, but "the horses did more of a two-minute lick-type of gallop than the restrained type that they did last year," Ventura said. "The buyers should feel like that they've had a better chance to evaluate the horses."

The sale will begin at 2:30 p.m. (EST).