There are so many factors that can affect the outcome of a horse sale it is often difficult to predict a probable outcome. But all signs are pointing toward a positive Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. sale of 2-year-olds in training March 15-16.
"You don't want to get too overconfident because you never how financial markets and other factors affect the market, but we're feeling pretty good about what's going to happen," OBS president Tom Ventura said. "We're looking forward to the sale. The consignors have stepped up again and have brought us top horses and they showed up during the under tack shows."
Recent grade I winners sold during the March sale include Stopchargingmaria, Carpe Diem , Jack Milton , Secret Circle , and Gomo. Acapulco, a grade II winner at Ascot trained by Wesley Ward, came out of last year's sale, offering added appeal to the auction.
This will be the second auction since OBS dropped the "select" label and expanded the number of offerings in an effort to attract more buyers.
During the first expanded sale in 2015, 325 horses were sold, compared with 201 in 2014, with gross receipts of $55.4 million well above the previous year's $37.6 million. Not surprising, with more horses offered at all price ranges, the average fell to $170,650 from $187,201.
"What this sale offers is a large enough group of horses that a lot of buyers can come here feeling comfortable that can buy a good horse that can go out and run, and not just at the top end," Ventura said of the decision to open up the sale.
Ventura cited purse increases in middle-market racing circuits such as Maryland, Kentucky, and Arkansas as creating demand for OBS 2-year-olds that previously would likely not even been in the sale.
"They (buyers) know they can come here and look at those (2-year-olds by) top sires, but also horses by those sires flying under the radar with good physicals," he said, citing some well-conformed sale prospects sired by first-year sires."
One of OBS's largest consignors, Ciaran Dunne, who operates Wavertree Stables with his wife, Amy, said he believes the expanded offerings will result in not as much strength at the top of the market but more strength in the middle.
"Are there 10, $1 million horses here? No. I think what you might see is the top end to fall off but the middle strengthen," said Dunne, whose offerings topped the recent Fasig-Tipton Florida selected sale. "As consignors that's where we need it to strengthen because we have more of those horses in the middle."
The sale begins daily at 11 a.m. EDT and will be live streamed at Bloodhorse.com.