By Mike Compton
Yearling buyers have the Keeneland sale in September. Buyers of juveniles now have an Ocala Breeders' Sale Co. auction in April.
With a total of 1,195 head cataloged, this week's OBS's spring sale of 2-year-olds in training, which kicks off on Monday, April 22 and runs through Thursday, April 25, should go a long way in meeting customer demand for quality juveniles.
"I know people that have been anticipating this sale for six months," said Justin Casse of Casse Sales. "I look at this sale as a microcosm of Keeneland September. If the right horse comes along, you could see $1 million in the ring.
"There are players at every level here," he added. "I expect a strong middle market. The quality offered in this sale has improved significantly over the years. More horses are actually being pointed to this sale now. I see better horses and better prepared horses in this sale."
Sales officials and consignors are optimistic heading into the four-day venue.
"I'm very upbeat," said OBS president Tom Ventura. "Part of the reason for that is that there is a buyer here for every segment and every budget. It looks like we're set up for a good sale. It's the go-to 2-year-old sale on the calendar.
"Consignors have become more and more confident over time," Ventura added. "It used to be that if a horse wasn't at its peak in March and needed more time, the consignors would look to April. Over time, consignors have grown more comfortable bringing all types of horses here and actually pointing for this sale."
In 2012, graduates of the OBS spring dale of 2-year-olds in training were flying high. Eclipse Award winners I'll Have Another and Trinniberg graced the covers of the two catalogs and both enjoyed stellar seasons after going through the ring in Ocala for modest sums.
J. Paul Reddam's I'll Have Another, sold for $35,000 by Eisaman Equine, agent, on behalf of Victor Davila, at the 2011 sale, concluded the 2012 season undefeated. The son of Flower Alley notched four graded stakes victories, including the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), Preakness Stakes (gr. I), and Santa Anita Derby (gr. I), and retired from racing to stand at Big Red Farm in Japan with earnings of more than $2.6 million.
Sherry Parbhoo's Trinniberg won four graded stakes races in 2012, capping off his year with a victory in the Xpressbet Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) at Santa Anita Park. The son of Teuflesberg is now an earner of $1,483,300. He was sold for $21,000 by M & H Training and Sales, agent at the 2011 OBS April sale.
"Certainly, successful graduates bolster confidence that buyers have in this sale," said Ventura. "It has definitely produced the kinds of results that attract buyers at the top end as well as all other levels from the bottom up."
With last week's four-day marathon under tack show in the books, prospective buyers have plenty of information to digest and horses to choose from. Among some of the standouts during last week's four days of under tack breeze shows were Hip No. 252, a City Zip filly and Hip No. 860, a colt by Run Away and Hide , who both drilled an eighth in a bullet :9 3/5. The clocking equaled the fastest eight of a mile ever worked over the OBS SafeTrack surface.
Both 2-year-olds hail from the Old South Farm consignment. The City Zip filly is produced from the winning Petionville mare Danse Kongo and is a half sister to stakes-placed Copy My Swagger. Old South's Albert Davis acquired the filly for $55,000 from consignor Lane's End at last year's Keeneland September sale.
The Run Away and Hide colt is out of the Grand Slam mare Regal Bird. The colt is a $30,000 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October yearling sale graduate out of the Denali Stud consignment.
"Both horses have been real forward," said Davis. "They are fast and I expect they will be early types. It feels lively around here this weekend. The buyers seem to be shopping for and landing on the right horses. I think it's going to be a good, strong sale."
Hartley/De Renzo Thoroughbreds has 14 horses in the sale. The outfit sold the sale topper at the March 25 Fasig-Tipton Florida Sale at Palm Meadows, a $1.6 million Bernardini colt bought by Steven Young, agent for Robert LaPenta. Dean De Renzo is encouraged by traffic in the barn area this weekend.
"It's been steady, it's been good," De Renzo said. "We're showing a majority of our horses and we've brought some really nice ones."
De Renzo is especially high on Hip No. 572, a Bernardini colt named Prince Bernardini. The bay colt is produced from Rooneys Princess, who is by Deputy Minister out of champion Princess Rooney.
Purchased by Hartley/De Renzo Thoroughbreds at last year's Fasig-Tipton New York select yearling sale for $225,000, the colt was entered in the OBS March Sale but needed a little more time to develop.
"He's an amazing horse," said De Renzo. "He's our best horse this year. He's light years ahead of the others. But he's supposed to be. He's a big, gorgeous horse. Everything fits. When we bought him as a yearling, we were prepared to a go a lot higher for him. We thought we got a heck of a buy with him. He's landed the right way for us."
Bred in Kentucky by Robert Gentry Family Partnership, Prince Bernardini worked an eighth of a mile in :10 at the preview.
"The rider never even uncocked the stick," said De Renzo. "And he galloped out huge."
Nick de Meric of De Meric Sales has some of the preview's fastest workers in his consignment. Like most of the consignors, he is seeing all the right signs on the eve of the sale.
"Going in it sure looks like it's shaping up to be strong," he said. "It's a wonderful turn out of buyers. "This sale has turned into the Keeneland September of 2-year-old sales. You can't say this about all the sales, but this is a can't-miss sale for buyers."
Among de Meric's promising runners is Hip No 953, a chestnut filly by Street Boss who worked a bullet quarter in :20 3/5 last Friday. A $10,000 Fasig-Tipton October graduate, the filly is out of the Black Minnaloushe mare Sigatoo, a half-sister to graded stakes-placed Solar Fire and two other stakes-placed horses.
"She's a natural athlete," De Meric said. "She has an outstanding turn of foot."
De Meric also has high hopes for Hip No.'s 26 and 700. Hip No. 26 is a Colonel John colt out of the Dixieland Band mare Always Ready. De Meric paid $70,000 for the colt at Keeneland September.
"He's a standout physical," de Meric said of the colt, who covered an eighth of a mile in :10 at the preview.
"He had an awesome breeze and he has been shown a lot."
Hip No. 700, named Vestibule, is a $30,000 OBS August yearling sale graduate out of the Summerfield consignment, agent for Hawks Meadow Farm. The Graeme Hall colt worked a furlong in :9 4/5 at the breeze show.
"He is freakishly fast," de Meric said. "He is an outstanding individual."
Among the expected standouts in Barry and Shari Eisaman's Eisaman Equine consignment this week are Hip No.'s 366 (New York-bred City Zip filly), 408 (homebred Kitten's Joy colt) and 483 (Florida-bred Two Step Salsa colt). All three juveniles drilled an eighth of a mile in :10 at the breeze show.
"They've all been popular here," Eisaman said. "They're very nice individuals.
"We always try to bring horses we feel will perform at the upper end of all the sales we consign to," he said. "The April sale has been a wonderful market and a great place to sell horses. It used to be that the sale competed with Fasig-Tipton Florida and with Barretts March. Now horses defect from those sales to come to this sale. There are a lot of buyers here. We're seeing familiar faces and plenty of new faces. I expect it will be another strong sale."
All sessions get underway at 10:30 a.m. The sale can be viewed at bloodhorse.com/OBS.