At last year's Ocala Breeders' Sales' August yearling sale, Mandy Pope's Whisper Hill Farm sold an Astrology filly for $50,000 to Tom McCrocklin, who was acting on behalf of a partnership group.
Pope decided she wanted her back, and during the June 14 final session of the Ocala Breeders' Sales 2-year-olds and horses in training sale, the Florida horsewoman went to $300,000 to purchase the filly who has matured into a striking individual and displayed her racing potential with a speedy pre-sale workout.
The filly's purchase highlighted a strong second session that helped fuel a robust OBS auction, which experienced across-the-board increases in average and median prices for a sale that was significantly trimmed in size this year.
From 755 cataloged in the 2-year-old portion of the two-day sale, OBS reported 424 horses sold for $15,216,900. Last year's four-day sale resulted in 619 head changing hands for total receipts of $17,930,900.
This year's cumulative average of $35,889 represented a 23.9% gain over the $28,968 figure a year ago and the median of $19,000 was up 46.1% over the $13,000 median last year. This year's RNA rate was 18.8% compared with 24.3% a year ago.
"It was a good sale overall," said OBS sales director Tod Wojciechowski. "A lot of horses found new homes."
With the June sale following a strong OBS April auction, Wojciechowski said the numbers bode well for the upcoming yearling sales, including OBS October.
"Hopefully the 2-year-old sellers will have money to spend at yearling sales," the OBS executive said.
Offered as Hip 631, the session-topping Astrology filly was bought by McCrocklin from the Summerfield consignment at last year's yearling sale. During the June 10 final under tack show workouts leading up to this year's auction, the filly breezed a quarter-mile in the session's best time of :20 4/5.
Produced from the winning Giant's Causeway mare Dreamingly, the filly is from the female family of grade 1 winners Raven's Song, No Matter What, and Rainbow View, as well as grade 2 winner and sire E Dubai.
Unlike many of the OBS June horses, the Astrology filly was not entered in any other 2-year-old sale because she needed time to grow, according to McCrocklin.
"She was a big filly who was growing, and we didn't want to force-feed her but wanted to let her grow into herself," McCrocklin said. "She is just a big, racey, and scopey filly. She is a beautiful horse."
The strength of this year's sale was welcome news to OBS consignors who endured last year's weak four-day session.
"It was a very difficult sale last year, but this year's catalog was reduced to about half of what it was and I think the laws of supply and demand have evened out," said David O'Farrell, whose family's Ocala Stud only sells at OBS. "I think you would find a few buyers who wish they could have bought for a few dollars less and sellers who wished they could have sold horses for a few dollars more, but at the end of the day it's been very fair trade and a very good market."
O'Farrell said it was particularly inspiring to see competitive bidding at all price levels, not just the very top and bottom.
"Last year we only had one horse sell for between $30,000-$100,000. Everything else was below $30,000 or above $100,000," O'Farrell said. "This year we have been selling horses for $40,000, $50,000, and $60,000 all day long. There has been a lot of activity on those horses and it's good to see."
McCrocklin said there was a sense of urgency on the part of both sellers and buyers, prompted by the realization the June sale is the last juvenile venue of the year.
"It is the sale of last resort," McCrocklin said. "For sellers, you either sell your horse or go to the racetrack. It really starts to sink in. I could sense a little bit of urgency on the part of agents."
Wednesday's second-highest price of $220,000 was paid by trainer Linda Rice for a Flat Out colt consigned as Hip 634 by Bobby Dodd, agent. Produced from the winning Victory Gallop mare Dress Parade, the colt was bred in Kentucky by Richard Snyder and Connie Snyder and was bought for $110,000 from the Allied Bloodstock consignment to last year's Fasig-Tipton October yearling sale.
The sale-topper was a dark bay or brown colt by First Dude bought by his breeder, David Dizney, for $400,000 during Tuesday's first session. A homebred raced by David Dizney's father Donald, First Dude won the Hollywood Gold Cup (G1) and finished second in the Preakness Stakes and third in the Belmont Stakes, both grade 1 classics, before being retired to the Dizney family's Double Diamond Farm in Florida.
The second-leading sire in Florida this year, First Dude stands for $7,500 and was listed at $10,000 in 2014 when the current crop of 2-year-olds was conceived.
The colt was bought in the name of David Dizney Racing Syndicate, a partnership group the breeder will manage.
Rice was leading buyer with seven purchases for $1,190,000 while Eddie Woods' 18 head sold for $1,599,500 made him top consignor.