The outlook for the Thoroughbred auction business is getting brighter after the stabilization or improvement of many juvenile sale results. The recent Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. spring sale of 2-year-olds in training was especially solid, generating increases of 4.4% in gross revenue, 12.9% in average price, and 33.3% in median price.
“It had a little snap and pop to it, and it held up all the way the through,” said consignor Nick De Meric. “There were some moments when it felt a little stronger than other moments, but top to bottom you had to call it a very good horse sale.”
De Meric, who is an OBS director, sold 23 of the 24 horses he offered for $793,500. He wasn’t surprised much by the strength of the auction because of the positive performance of the OBS March select sale, which enjoyed upswings of 10.6% in average and 16.8% in median.
“I think it’s telling us that mostly the worst is over,” said De Meric of the growing trend in upbeat statistics. “That’s not to say we’re out of the woods yet; I don’t think that for a minute. But some of the gloom and doom that had been predicted earlier this year and last year is dissipating. There are little signs of optimism in the marketplace at the moment that we haven’t seen for a while.”
According to De Meric, there has been a signficant change in the attitude of buyers recently.
“So much of it in the horse business is a mind-set,” De Meric said. “There is no question that discretionary spending has been affected by the recession. But there are so many people who participate in the horse busienss who don’t have to use their last dollar or their grocery money to buy horses. They’ve just had the mind-set that they shouldn’t be spending money on frivolous things in a time of national crisis. That sort of mind-set has changed with the positive signs that we are seeing in the general economy.”
De Meric predicted the rebound in the Thoroughbred marketplace would continue.
“All this has got to have a positive effect on our local economy in Ocala,” he said, “and to be honest, I would be very surprised if it didn’t carry over to the yearling sales in Kentucky. For those who do make a living pinhooking or do a lot of it, there is suddenly a reason to do it again.
"For the last couple of years – three years even – a lot of us have been wondering if it really made any sense. We were giving back to the business more than we were making, and that’s not much of a business plan. God knows, we’ve got some major things still to fix in the Thoroughbred industry, but I think there is definitely reason for hope. We should definitely be encouraged by these (sale) results.”