Like many buyers speculating on young horses to be re-sold, Peter O'Callaghan has been active at the Keeneland January horses of all ages sale, purchasing short yearlings that will be offered at late-season yearling sales.
Midway through the Jan. 9 second session, O'Callaghan bought eight youngsters under various nom de plumes, including that of his Wood's Edge Farm and Rocco Bloodstock, the latter named after his dog.
Included among the Rocco Bloodstock purchases were colts by Uncle Mo and Malibu Moon , bought for $200,000 and $125,000 respectively. Consigned as Hip 25 by Hill 'n' Dale Sales Agency, the Uncle Mo colt was produced from the grade 1-placed War Front mare Emerald Gold. The son of Malibu Moon (Hip 288) from Taylor Made Sales Agency is out of the Skip Away mare Window Woman and is a half brother to stakes winners Princess Erindelle and Window Boy.
O'Callaghan said it is a more competitive auction environment this year than at the 2017 January sale and he is buying on the prospect of the strong bloodstock market continuing throughout 2018.
"I definitely found it much harder to buy this year than last year, and that was the same in November as it is in January," the horseman said. "Our outlays are considerably higher this year than the last few years. I'm certainly hoping that the market holds up."
O'Callaghan said there are many reasons to be optimistic about the health of the industry going forward, considering the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act approved by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump late last year that includes provisions favorable to some equine holdings, and strong purses at many race meets.
"The people we are selling to pay heed to those kinds of changes, so it can only be a positive," O'Callaghan said of the incentives provided under the tax laws. "There are a lot of other things to like in racing, like the purses being offered in grade 1 races like the Pegasus and Breeders' Cup. There are a lot of good reasons to race horses."
O'Callaghan said he has done well with his January yearling pinhooks in the past and that he seems to have more success buying early in the sale.
"It has been a good sale for us, especially buying out of the first day, where most of our luck has come in most years," he said. "We find more of the horses that work for us on the first day historically. It does seem to get more competitive later in the sale.
"At any sale it seems to get better as the sale goes longer so it's always suited us to buy early when we can," O'Callaghan said. "This sale is very good. For the nice race fillies, in-foal mares, and yearlings, the market is strong."
O'Callaghan said he would be less active during the January sale Book 2 sessions Jan. 10-11 because he was nearing his limit of horses needed for his yearling consignments.
"We have a lot of homebreds, bought a lot in November, and bought quite a few yesterday, so we don't need to buy many more," he said.