The 2019 edition of the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. March 2-Year-Olds In Training Sale saw unprecedented bounty at the very top of the market, but mid-level trade took a step back in the juvenile auction season's first event.
The two-day auction saw 309 horses sold for revenues of $44,422,500, up 5 percent from last year's final gross, when 257 horses brought $42,275,000.
Propelling that trade was a Tapit colt who sold during Tuesday's opening session for $2 million, making him the most expensive offering in the history of the OBS March sale. The transaction surpassed the previous co-record-holders, who each brought $1.8 million. Pacific, a Smart Strike colt sold to Stonestreet Stables at the 2013 edition, and Garifine, a son of Belong to Me, who went to Buzz Chace, agent at the 2006 sale.
The colt, named Chestertown, sold to the partnership of West Point Thoroughbreds, Robert Masiello, and Siena Farm, with breeders Chester and Mary Broman staying in for a one-third share. Out of the Grade 1-winning Roman Ruler mare Artemis Agrotera, the colt was consigned by Sequel Bloodstock, as agent.
That colt was one of two offerings that eclipsed the seven-figure mark during the OBS March sale, joined by a Pioneerof the Nile colt who sold to Larry Best's OXO Equine for $1.2 million. Last year's sale failed to produce a seven-figure horse.
Rank-and-file trade was not at the same numeric pace as the 2018 edition. The average sale price finished at $143,762, down 13 percent from $164,494, while the median price declined 24 percent to $80,000 from $105,000.
The buyback rate finished at 23 percent, which was a significant drop from 29 percent in 2018. OBS director of sales Tod Wojciechowski inferred that the declines in average figures could be tied to the lower buyback rate, with sellers showing a greater willingness to let a horse go at a lower price point.
“There was activity at all levels,” he said. “The average dipped a little bit, so did the median, but we sold 50 more horses than we did last year, and 30 of those horses were less than or equal to $50,000. Compared to 2018, when we sold 87 horses for equal to or less than $50,000, and we sold 117 this year. We were happy to see that, that horses got moved at all levels.
“On the other end, last year, we had two horses that brought over $800,000, and this year we had six, so there's growth on both ends,” Wojciechowski continued.
The dark bay or brown colt is out of the Grade 3-placed Tapit mare Rashnaa, who is the dam of one winner from three runners.
Trainer John Servis signed the ticket for the new owners – the same team that campaigns champion Jaywalk.
“We were hoping to get him for a lot cheaper, but we really liked the colt,” Servis said. “He was one of the top horses on our list, and we had two good clients who were willing to step up and go after him. I'm sure if he weren't by Medaglia d'Oro, he would have been a couple hundred thousand dollars cheaper.”
Consigned by King's Equine, the colt breezed an eighth of a mile in :10 seconds flat over the Ocala Training Center's all-weather Safetrack surface.
“He's a great big horse, a touch back at his knee, but he gets over the ground really good,” Servis said. “I think he's just going to be a horse you're going to have to go really slow with, and I think in the long run, hopefully he'll be a nice horse for us. The great thing is, the guys that I bought him for are patient as saints.”
The early goings of the OBS March Sale were dominated by stallions whose first juveniles are hitting the auction ring and the racetrack this year, led by a filly by The Big Beast and a colt by Palace Malice who each brought $850,000.
A day after landing an OBS March-record $2-million Tapit colt, West Point Thoroughbreds was once again swinging big, this time getting Hip 302, by The Big Beast, in partnership with William Sandbrook and M. Anthony. West Point co-campaigns California-bred Kentucky Derby hopeful Galilean.
The bay filly is out of the winning Trippi mare Lucky Trip, from the family of Argentine champion sprinter Dona Ley. She was bred in Florida and consigned by Ocala Stud, which also stands The Big Beast.
“When you see a horse that you just know is a runner, she's it,” said bloodstock agent David Ingordo, who signed the ticket. “She had the look, she did everything right. It was a lot of money, but she's probably worth it if she runs.”
Ingordo said the filly would be sent to begin her racing career in California, likely going to John Sadler.
The filly breezed a quarter-mile in :20 4/5 seconds during the pre-sale under-tack show.
“I was a huge fan of The Big Beast as a racehorse, and we're very fortunate to have the opportunity to stand the horse along with Alex and Joann Lieblong,” said David O'Farrell of Ocala Stud. “This filly has been exceptional from day one, and turned in a phenomenal breeze. She looks and acts the part, and showed herself extremely well. It's very satisfying to get the stallion off to such a great start.”
The bay colt is out of the winning More Than Ready mare Miss Always Ready, herself a full-sister to Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner More Than Real. He breezed a quarter in :21 1/5 seconds during the under-tack show. Pick View consigned the colt, as agent.
“He's a phenomenal colt, an outstanding mind,” said Pick View's Joe Pickerrell. “I'm happy a top-class outfit got him, because that makes us really proud that we can bring a horse like that to market.”
The colt was a $160,000 purchase out of last year's Keeneland September Yearling Sale.
“He was a horse that just really stood out in our minds,” Pickerrell said about the colt as a yearling. “We couldn't get him out of our minds the whole day. Everybody on our team just kept bringing this horse up and going back to him, so it was kind of meant to be. The first time we saw him, we knew we were going to do everything we could to bring him home.”
Eddie Woods was the auction's leading consignor by gross, with 18 horses sold over both days for $4,317,000. His draft was led by an Into Mischief colt who sold to Spendthrift Farm for $550,000. Narvick International, acting on behalf of Prince Sultan Bin Mishaal Al Saud of Saudi Arabia, was the top buyer, with eight purchases totaling $3,050,000.
Wednesday's closing session of the OBS March sale finished with across-the-board declines. A total of 147 horses brought $21,291,000, down 3 percent from last year's closer when 128 juveniles sold for $21,948,000. The average fell 16 percent to $144,837, while the median declined 21 percent to $95,000.
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