The Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's March select auction of 2-year-olds ended with a bang on Wednesday. A Dehere ridgling became the most expensive juvenile ever sold by OBS when he brought a $1,050,000 bid from trainer Todd Pletcher, who was representing pharmaceutical executive Eugene Melnyk.
In all, 216 horses were sold during the two-day sale. They grossed $15,166,000 and averaged $70,213. The median was $51,000. Compared to last year's results, the number sold and the gross revenue were down by 13.6% and 13.4%, respectively. The average was up by less than 1%, and the median was down by 7.3%. OBS reported that this year's buy-back rate was 37%, up slightly from last year's figure of 34%.
"Under the uncertain conditions of the stock market, I thought it was a good sale," said Tom Ventura, the director of sales for OBS.
Produced from the Gilded Time mare Sweet Gold, the Dehere ridgling was consigned to the auction by Randy Hartley and Dean De Renzo. They had purchased the flashy chestnut for $50,000 at the 2000 Keeneland September yearling sale. The ridgling turned in the fastest quarter-mile workout time during the March 12 under tack show, covering the distance in :21 3/5. The time also was the co-fastest quarter-mile clocking for all the sale's under tack shows.
"Obviously, he performed very well on the racetrack," Pletcher said. "He is an exceptional-looking individual. We've had success with Dehere (offspring) in the past with Graeme Hall, so we liked his pedigree. And we liked everything else about him. He has a great laid-back attitude, and yet, he still performed well on the track."
The immediate underbidder was Bob Lewis, who was represented at the auction by Kentucky bloodstock agent John Moynihan and Florida horseman J.B. McKathan. They talked to Lewis on a cell phone during the bidding.
New Jersey bloodstock agent Buzz Chace, representing Charles Hesse, and trainer Lynn Whiting, representing Choctaw Racing Stable, said they also offered bids on the ridgling.
The son of Dehere is the fourth horse ever sold for seven figures by OBS, and he is the highest-priced 2-year-old sold so far in 2001 at any auction.