The reputation of the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. Spring Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training has grown exponentially over the past decade, consistently setting new record returns over the course of those years. After setting records in gross, average and median figures in 2018, this year's renewal raised that bar once again, with all-time highs in all three categories.
The four-day auction, the most populous on the North American juvenile auction calendar, moved 675 horses for revenues of $73,287,000, up seven percent from last year's previous record high of $68,541,500 from 698 sold.
Also achieving a new record was the average sale price, which rose 11 percent to $108,573 from $98,197. The median also set a new high-water mark of $60,000, up nine percent from the old standard of $55,000. The four-day buyback rate was 19.7 percent.
“I think the buying bench was very deep, and the competition for the top horses, for the most part, wasn't just two buyers,” said OBS president Tom Ventura. “It was multiple buyers that got in very deep, and the people who bought the top horses were spread around.”
The median sale price rose to a record point for an eighth consecutive year. Ventura said that growth is a cause for, and byproduct of, the auction's growing reputation as a quality place to trade bloodstock, especially as the “select sale” model has become less common in the juvenile marketplace.
“That's been shifting in that direction for quite a while now,” he said. “The consignors used to have some concern – What is the question mark with this horse that is an expensive purchase? Now, it's 'Let's put the horse where it deserves to be, when it deserves to be there,' and the buyers are super-comfortable at this stage in the game.”
Tod Wojciechowski, director of sale at OBS attributed a large part of that growth to international interest in the spring sale.
Wojciechowski described the growth as an “upward spiral” effect, perpetuated by the on-track production of the horses that have come out of the sale on a global scale.
“I don't think we get the international trade without those horses doing well in Japan, in Korea, in the Middle East,” he said. “That's what's bringing the people here. When you look at the top cumulative buyers, you've got Narvick International, you've got K.O.I.D. (based in Korea), and then domestic buyers. I'm impressed each year with the amount of international trade that gets added to the domestic buying bench.”
While the sale's numbers reached dizzying heights, there were still a few soft spots in the marketplace, especially on Tuesday during the initial session. The momentum picked up late in the day to propel overall gains for the session, but it had to come from behind to do it.
While most expected the sale to be one that gathered momentum as it went, and they were correct, it still left some day-one participants wanting.
“I think there are horses the first day that were worth significantly more than what they were bought back for,” said bloodstock agent Steven Young. “When you have a four-day sale like this, sometimes the first day is like the first round of a fight, where people are just feeling each other out. I think there are some horses that brought a lot more money than they probably figured to bring.”
Becky Thomas of consignor Sequel Bloodstock also noted some difficulties drawing attention to the horses below the upper tiers, which is a complaint that has become more and more common across the auction calendar.
“It's very, very high on the top end, but it's so polarized,” Thomas said. “If you hit that upper echelon, you rocket, and if you don't, it's not the number of RNAs that I think are telling, it's the number of outs.”
Into Mischief Colt Brings Sale-Topping $1.3 Million
The biggest splash of this year's OBS Spring sale came near the end of Friday's fourth and final session, when Team Casse, led by Justin Casse, signed as agent for a $1.3-million colt by Into Mischief.
The bay colt, who went through the ring as Hip 1165, is out of the unraced Fusaichi Pegasus mare Dixie Song, from the family of Grade 1 winner By the Moon and G1-placed stakes winner By the Light.
Casse described the colt as his “pick of the sale,” and a welcome prize after finishing as the underbidder on several offerings through the course of the auction. The colt breezed a quarter-mile in :21-flat over the Ocala Training Center's all-weather Safetrack surface during the pre-sale under-tack show.
“I don't know if any animal's flawless, but he's pretty close to it,” Casse said. “He's very well-balanced, great walker, did a phenomenal time, and carried his speed through the gallop-out. You have speed on the top side and distance on the bottom side, and we loved the whole combination.”
The colt was the second seven-figure horse of the sale for consignor de Meric Stables, which also sold a $1-million Quality Road filly during Wednesday's second session.
The high-level performance was an exceedingly positive outcome for the de Meric camp, which entered last year's yearling season with a group of new partners and the aim of buying at a higher tier and hopefully reselling them at prices reflective of that strategy.
“We knew we needed some top offerings for this year,” said Tristan de Meric. “With the polarity of the market, we wanted to be in the top 10 percent of the sales that we took our horses to, and I feel like we did a good job rounding up the right ones.”
Case in point, the sale-topper was purchased by de Meric Sales for $300,000 at last year's Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Select Yearling Sale.
“He's similar to Practical Joke in a lot of ways. He's a precocious kind of horse. He looks like the kind that could go out and win the Hopeful. We had high hopes from the moment we signed the ticket at Saratoga. He was a no-brainer for a 2-year-old sale.”
Candy Ride Colt Headed To Pletcher For $975,000
Bloodstock agent Steven Young made his presence known in the middle of Friday's closing session of the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. Spring Sale of 2-Year-Olds In Training, going to $975,000 for a Candy Ride colt.
The bay colt, offered as Hip 1066, is out of the Grade 3-placed stakes-winning Proud Citizen mare Citizen Advocate. His extended page includes champion Caledonia Road, and G1 winners Hymn Book and Data Link. He breezed an eighth in :10-flat.
“I think he's very special,” Young said. “He's by more than a proper sire, and he comes from a female line where the dam's a half-sister to the dam of a Breeders' Cup winner. You go down the Vespers/Database Stuart Janney family, and those horses are as tough as they get with a ton of two-turn ability. We hoped we'd get him for less, but that's what those horses cost. I think this is a proper horse, and if we're right, he could find himself in a stallion barn.”
Young said the colt would be sent to trainer Todd Pletcher.
Wavertree Stables consigned the colt, as agent.
“Tom Mara is one of our original clients,” said Ciaran Dunne of Wavertree Stables. “He's been with us for 20-odd years, through thick and thin. He claimed the mare, ran her, and, bred this colt, and made the decision last year that he wanted to try him in the 2-year-old sale. Tommy loves to race, and part of the reason I think he pointed for the 2-year-old sales is he was putting off the decision to sell him as long as he could, but colts like him are hard to turn down.”
Stonestreet Stables Buys Medaglia d'Oro Filly For $825,000
The Stonestreet operation knows a thing or two about good Medaglia d'Oro fillies, having campaigned 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra, and it went back to that well again for Hip 1111 at $825,000.
The dark bay or brown filly is out of the stakes-placed Aptitude mare Critikal Reason, whose four foals to race are all winners, including G1-placed stakes winner Bajan and G3-placed Virtual Machine. Critikal Reason is a half-sister to Broodmare of the Year and Kentucky Oaks winner Lemons Forever, herself the dam of champion Forever Unbridled, G1 winner Unbridled Forever, and stakes-placed Forever d'Oro.
The filly was a $172,000 purchase at last year's Fasig-Tipton Kentucky fall yearling sale on behalf of Lewis Lakin, with the intention to race.
Becky Thomas of consignor Sequel Bloodstock said those plans changed when other Lakin purchases didn't vet well enough to go through the sale, leading them to point toward the racetrack later on. To pay for the ones he'd keep to race, the decision was made to sell the Medaglia d'Oro filly.
The filly breezed an eighth in :9 4/5 seconds.
Wavertree Stables was the auction's leading consignor, with 37 horses sold for $6,636,500, edging out de Meric Stables, with 41 sold for $6,564,000. Leading the Wavertree consignment was Hip 898, a first-crop Liam's Map colt who sold to Robert and Lawana Low for $1.2 million during Thursday's session.
Narvick International, buying as agent for a variety of global clients, was the leading buyer of the OBS Spring sale, with 13 purchases totaling $3,325,000. The most expensive offering of the group was Hip 444, a Quality Road filly who hammered for $1 million.
Thursday's session finished with 151 horses sold for $16,648,000, down 2 percent from last year's closer, when 159 horses brought $16,934,500. The average sale price rose 4 percent to $110,252, the median grew 4 percent to $52,000, and the buyback rate landed at 24.6 percent.
To view the auction's full results, click here.
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