10/15/2004 12:00AM

Banner year for weanlings at Ocala sale


Tom Ventura, general manager of the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company, was, as they say on the Street, bullish in advance of the company's annual fall mixed sale, Oct. 11 through 14. He thought all the signs were in place to produce a strong sale, and so they proved to be.

"Our August yearling sale was strong, the Keeneland fall yearling sales were strong, and I felt that this would carry over to our fall mixed sale," said Ventura.

While all categories reflected a healthy market, the weanlings were especially prized.

"A lot of buyers think that next year's yearling market is going to be even stronger," Ventura said.

Nine of the top 10 prices went to weanlings, including the sale-topper, Hip No. 192, a Florida-bred son of Tale of the Cat out of Delerium, by Go for Gin. Sabine Stable purchased the colt for $120,000 from the consignment of Barbara and Francis Vanlangendonck's Summerfield Sales.

Yes It's True, the young sire who stood at Padua Stables before his recent relocation to Three Chimneys farm in Kentucky, is among the nation's freshman sire leaders, and this feat was reflected in the sales ring. Of the 39 recorded sales during the two-day OBS consignor-preferred sessions that drew bids of $50,000 or more, Yes It's True weanlings accounted for 11 of them, including three who sold for $85,000 each on the second day of the four-day auction.

A comparison of the weanling numbers shows that the average price in the consignor-preferred sessions rose from $18,814 in 2003 to $23,740 this year, and the median price jumped from $12,000 to $17,000. In the two open sessions, weanlings went from $5,485 in 2003 to $7,125 this year.

While broodmares were overshadowed by the weanling market, broodmares were deemed to have brought their market value and then some. The highest price in the sale for a broodmare was recorded by Hip No. 193, Wild Mistress, from the Estate of E.P. Robsham. A 3-year-old daughter of Forest Wildcat, she was a winner at 2 and was unplaced in one start at 3. She is due in February to the cover of Ocala Stud's young stallion Trippi. Kiki Courtelis bought the mare for $90,000.

The final tally for the consignor-preferred sessions came in at $8.7 million, or 70 percent greater than 2003's $5.1 million gross. The median price was up 50 percent, while the average price for both consignor-preferred days was up 23.2 percent. The four days of sales sent 708 horses through the ring, bringing a total of $10,521,800.

Waste regulation studied

Florida's principal aquifer, which supplies much of the state's drinking water, runs underneath much of mid-Florida's horse lands. The increasing population of horses of all breeds is creating a problem with waste management. The Florida Thoroughbred Breeders' and Owners' Association is attempting to address the issue with all sorts of prototype manure and natural-waste disposal methods. One such method under study is the transformation of muck into fertilizer through a baking process.

Much of the so-called Ocala region is within the parameters of Marion County, and county commissioners are developing regulations to deal with natural-waste removal and disposal. No one is sure just what the commissioners are going to come up with, but their guidelines initially will seek voluntary management practices.

Among the considered prohibitions will be banning the use of sinkholes, wetlands, and floodplains for waste dumping. Manure piles may be limited to eight feet. A possible density limit of one animal per acre is being considered to allow pastures to regenerate.

The best hope, as expressed by the breeders, owners, and other interested parties, is to make this waste liability into a profitable commodity.