The Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. has consolidated the select portion of its juvenile auction schedule for 2011, combining the February and March sales into one event that will be held March 15-16. The change was announced Aug. 20 following a meeting of the auction firm's board of directors.
For many years, the February select sale had kicked off the 2-year-old selling season in this country, but its leadoff position was a challenge for many consignors because any setback made it difficult for their horses to be ready so early.
“As 2-year-old consignors have fewer horses to offer than in years past, OBS will concentrate its efforts in showcasing select 2-year-olds in March,” Tom Ventura, OBS general manager and director of sales, said in a prepared statement. “We expect the OBS March sale to be on the calendars of all serious buyers. Kantharos, a graduate of our 2010 March sale, is currently at the head of his class after winning the Saratoga Special (gr. II) for his second graded-stakes victory.”
The 2011 March select auction will be preceded by the OBS annual day of racing March 14.
The February select sale's gross, average price, and median price all have declined for two years in a row, and the number of horses sold this year, 66, was the lowest total for the auction since OBS started conducting the sale after taking the reins from the Florida Breeders’ Sales Co. more than 20 years ago.
“I think it was the right thing to do for the time being,” said Florida pinhooker Eddie Woods, who is a member of the OBS board of directors. “There appears to be a shortage of horses coming into the marketplace anymore, and the March sale has proved to be such a great sale. I think combining the two sales will only make it better.
"It also will make it easier for the buyers. We have a big California contingent among our shoppers, and one trip is better than two for them at that time of year, when they’re trying to get their (Kentucky) Derby (gr. I) horses ready. I think shoppers were a little shy of the February sale because it was a little early.
"I think there’s a mindset among people that they only get bullish about buying 2-year-olds closer to when the 2-year-old races are starting. When they have that kind of mindset, it’s hard to sell a horse to them in February.”
For consignors, “the extra time to get horses ready will make a big difference,” Woods said.
In addition to the March sale, OBS will conduct the following auctions in 2011: the winter mixed sale (Jan. 18-19), the spring sale of 2-year-olds in training (April 18-21), the June sale of 2-year-olds and horses of racing age (June 21-22), the August yearling sale (Aug. 23-25), and the fall mixed sale (Oct. 18-20).