Sales officials and consignors are understandably optimistic heading into the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. June sale of 2-year-olds and horses of racing age June 18-19 in Ocala.
The June sale follows on the heels of a record-breaking OBS spring sale of 2-year-olds in training which shattered records in gross sales, sale average, and median price.
"We're optimistic, and we have good reason to be," said OBS President Tom Ventura while seeking comfort under a shade tree on a hot and humid Florida morning. "We've had two great sales already this year, and even more importantly for this sale, horses have come out running from the June sale."
Among the leading OBS June sale graduates is this year's Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) winner Goldencents. Owned by W.C. Racing, Dave Kenney, and RAP Racing, Goldencents was purchased by Dennis O'Neill, brother of trainer Doug O'Neill, at the 2012 sale. The son of Into Mischief also annexed the Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes (gr. III) at age two and has earned more than $1.2 million in his career.
Goldencents was consigned to last year's sale by Greg and Karen Dodd's Southern Chase Farm as agent for Webb Carroll.
Additional stakes-winning graduates sold at last year's June sale include Super Ninety Nine, winner of this year's Southwest Stakes (gr. III) at Oaklawn Park and multiple stakes winner Spring Venture. The latter was the second-highest priced horse at last year's sale, fetching $320,000 from Justin Casse, agent, out of the Eisaman Equine consignment. A multiple graded stakes winner last season, Spring Venture captured the filly division of this year's OBS Championship Stakes and has earned $386,592 for her owners Gary Barber and Stoneway Farm LLC.
"Being positioned where it is as the final 2-year-old sale of the year, this sale used to have the perception of a last-chance sale. With the top horses that have come out of this sale in recent years, the confidence of buyers and sellers is growing," Ventura said. "Now we have horses that are pointed for this sale, and there are plenty of good ones in the catalog this year.
"The market has been strong," Ventura added. "I've seen some of the bigger spenders on the grounds here, so we're looking for the momentum in the marketplace to continue."
Two juveniles recorded the fastest eighth in :9 4/5 during the three days of under tack previews: Hip No. 258, a filly by Red Giant named Puddifoot, consigned by Eisaman Equine, agent, and Hip No. 338, a colt by Elusive Quality consigned by SAB Sales (Scott A. Bergsrud).
Puddifoot is out of the graded stakes-winning Cee's Tizzy mare Theresa's Tizzy and is a half sister to graded stakes winner Got the Last Laugh and stakes-placed Lotto Ticket.
"She is fast," Barry Eisaman said of the gray or roan filly bred in Florida by Peachtree Stable. "We also broke her sire, Red Giant, and there are a lot of similarities between the two. She is bred for grass or synthetic and for speed. She's a very nice filly with a great mind. She's a top prospect."
The Elusive Quality colt is out of the unraced Distorted Humor mare Agatha, a sister to Japanese champion Hishi Akebono and two-time group I winner Agnes World. Bred in Kentucky by Fred Hertrich III and John D. Fielding, the colt was RNA'd at $80,000 at last year's Keeneland September sale out of the Taylor Made Sales Agency consignment.
"He is a very athletic colt," said Bergsrud. "He's an easy horse to be around. He has done everything right, and he acts like an older horse. He's smart and has quite a spring in his step."
Three youngsters shared honors for the under tack show's fastest quarter of a mile, breezing the distance in :20 3/5. Hip No. 335, a filly by More Than Ready consigned by Hoppel's Horse and Cattle Co.; Hip No. 377, a filly by Congrats consigned by Southern Chase Farm; and Hip No. 461, a colt by Exclusive Quality consigned by de Meric Sales, agent.
Hip No. 377 is a homebred for the Dodds. The decision to bring the Indiana-bred to auction wasn't an easy one for Karen Dodd.
"I didn't want to sell her," Karen Dodd said of the half sister to stakes winner Putyourdreamsaway out of the stakes-placed mare Beauty for Ashes. "I got overruled. Besides, we're in the business of selling horses not racing them. She's been awesome for us, and she's special to me. The mare she is out of had a lot of talent, and she passes it on to her babies. This baby is no exception. She has a lot of heart."
The fastest three furlongs by a 2-year-old in the under tack show was recorded by Hip No. 544, a daughter of Dixie Union consigned by Woodford Thoroughbreds, agent. From the family of Victory U. S. A. and Foresta, the bay filly breezed the distance in :33. Bred in Kentucky by Diamond A Racing, she was a $95,000 RNA at the OBS March sale earlier this year.
"Her work was very impressive," said Matt Lyons, general manager of Woodford Thoroughbreds. "She did it the right way and galloped out strong. She acts like she can really run. She's been getting a lot of action, and she is showing like a queen."
Among the horses of racing age to be offered, Hip No. 703, a filly named Lateen by Henrythenavigator, worked the fastest quarter, getting the distance in :20 4/5 for consignor Wavertree Stables Inc. Hip No.'s 696 and 701 breezed the fastest three-eighths among horses of racing age, going in :32 3/5. Hip No. 696, named Heza Saucy Guy, is consigned by Hendry Training Stables LLC, agent, and Hip No. 701 is a Wildcat Heir colt named Distorted Image consigned by Journeyman Bloodstock, agent.
Speaking to the changing perception of the June sale, Eisaman, the leading consignor at last year's June offering, echoed Ventura's thoughts on the subject.
"It used to be that this sale was thought of as having horses that didn't sell earlier," said Eisaman, who sold Spring Venture last year. "It's no longer a collection of leftovers. There are some really good horses in this sale, and it is the first sale opportunity for many of them.
"Seven or eight years ago I don't know if you could have sold a horse like Spring Venture at this sale. But in recent years, there have been some real nice horses that have come out of this sale, namely Goldencents. I don't see any reasons that suggest that this sale will be any different than the others this year. It should be a good sale."
The two-day sale runs June 18-19, and both sessions are slated to get underway at 10:30 a.m. The sale will be streamed live at obssales.com or at bloodhorse.com/obs.