OBS Yearling Sale Opens Off Last Year's Pace; Franks Reduction Begins

The Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's August yearling sale got off to a slower start than it did a year ago. During Monday's select session, the gross revenue, average price, and median price fell by 9.1%, 11.8%, and 8.6%, respectively. But OBS officials said the drops were not surprising.

"We were down around 10% (for gross and median), which was not unreasonable," said Tom Ventura, the OBS general manager and director of sales. "We would rather be up 10 percent than down, but we're not extremely disappointed because of the uncertainty (in the economy) and the way things are. We figured if we could be within about 10 percent of where we were (last year) we would be satisfied. The upper end was okay. But some of the lesser-priced horses took a pretty good hit. There were some horses that brought less than $10,000, and we were very disappointed in them."

OBS reported that 135 select yearlings were sold for a gross of $5,247,700, an average of $38,872, and a median $32,000. Last year, during the select session, the 131 yearlings sold grossed $5,774,000 and averaged $44,076. The median was $35,000. According to OBS calculations, the buyback rate slipped from 34.2% last year to 30.4% this year.

In terms of pedigree and conformation, New Jersey bloodstock agent Buzz Chace said the 2002 OBS catalogue "was very light." But he also added that "for the stock they've got, the horses are selling very well."

Eight horses brought six-figure prices during the select session. Last year, there were nine six-figure horses in the entire sale.

The most expensive select yearling sold this year was a bay Halo's Image colt that brought a $200,000 final bid from Florida horseman J.B. McKathan, who was acting on the behalf of Texas furniture seller James "Mattress Mac" McIngvale. Produced from the 21-year-old multiple stakes-winning mare Proud Clarioness (by Tri Jet), the colt is a half-brother to graded winners Hesabull (by Dispersal) and Big E E (by Jolie's Halo).

"He's a beautifully balanced horses, and I know the family," McKathan said. "I've been around them; they're all good racehorses. I tried buy to Hesabull and Big E E (privately) back when I was still pinhooking. Both of those horses could run, and the mare could really run."

The colt was bred in Florida by Lou Gurino, the owner of Lou-Roe Training Center near Morriston, Fla. The colt's consignor was Celebrity Farm, which is operated by Gurino's girlfriend Sandy Oroski.

"They (McKathan and McIngvale) made a great buy," Gurino said. "We were happy to sell him for that price off of a $4,000 stud fee, but we thought we were going to get more, actually."

The select session's highest-priced filly was a $175,000 daughter of Grand Slam that was purchased by Satish and Anne Sanan's Padua Stables. Consigned by Richard Kent's Kaizen Sales, agent, the filly was produced from the 7-year-old unraced Chief's Crown mare Miss Delta.

The select session was followed by the first phase of a major reduction by Louisiana oilman John Franks. Eighty-one yearlings sold for a gross of $841,800 and an average of $10,393.

"It was a tough market," Franks said. "I really was expecting more, but I'm glad that we got them sold. I won't have to feed them anymore."

Going into the auction, Franks said he owned approximately 650 horses. He would like to cut the total at least by half. Other horses are scheduled to be offered at sales at Keeneland and OBS later this year and at OBS juvenile auctions in 2003.

"I own too many horses," said Franks, who said his age (77) and his health ("circulation problems") were also factors in his decision to cut back.

The most expensive yearling sold by Franks was a $95,000 Kissin Kris colt, who is a half-brother to graded winners Littlebitlively (by Lively One) and Built for Pleasure (by Homebuilder). The colt also is a half-brother to stakes winner Herat's Pleasure (by Herat). The buyer was trainer Mark Casse, agent.

The OBS sale runs through Thursday, with three open sessions that all begin at 11 a.m. (EDT).