08/26/2004 11:00PM

Couple's $2,700 colt brings $220K

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The bloodstock equivalent of a home run is to buy low and sell very high. For Benedict Mohit and his wife, Gita, a pair of small-animal veterinarians from Dade City, Fla., their first experience with pin-hooking came last fall when they decided that the time was ripe to invest in Thoroughbreds.

The initial step was for Benedict Mohit to contact a Kentucky veterinary school colleague. This, in turn, led to a network of savvy people in the horse business and to a pair of weanlings, a gray colt by Anet purchased for $4,700 and a bay colt by Pikepass at a cost of $2,700.

More referrals ultimately brought the Kentucky weanling purchases to Joan Audette, widow of Fern Audette, one- time publisher of the Florida Horse magazine. Joan raised the youngsters at her Rainbow Rise Farm in Ocala, Fla., on behalf of the Mohits. She then sent the horses on to Richard Kent and Kaizen Sales to be sold at the OBS August yearling auction.

First to the plate at the OBS yearling venue was Hip No. 464, the Anet colt. The $4,700 weanling struck out and was knocked down for $4,200. Next came Hip No. 546, the bay colt by Pikepass. There was a buzz about this colt.

"He was an eye-catcher," said Kent. "I just did not know how high was up; I knew he had everyone's attention."

The opening bid for the $2,700 weanling, representing the first crop of the Spendthrift Farm stallion Pikepass, a stakes-winning son of Forty Niner, was $50,000. When the bidding ended, the Mohits had their home run, $220,000 worth. Martin Cherry won the bid from agent David Lambert.

Pin-hookers prospered at this sale. There were more than 150 weanling pin-hooks consigned to both sales. The selected sale counted 37 of these pin-hooks through the ring and 33 of them sold for more money than their original cost. Among these, for example, was Hip No. 234, a colt by Exchange Rate who cost $24,000 last fall and was resold for $170,000 at this sale. Hip No. 168, a colt by Salt Lake, was a $4,000 weanling buy and was resold in the selected session for $70,000.

Confidence was high going into the OBS yearling market, and that attitude proved well founded. The one-day selected sale posted a gross of $9.2 million and an average of $52,271 for 177 sold. This was an increase of 18 percent compared with last year. Both the average and median were records. The buy-back rate also tumbled to 21 percent.

The three days of open sales also posted records. The gross of $9.1 million for 714 yearlings was $2.5 million more than last year. The average of $12,758 was up by a third compared with 2003 and broke the all-time record set in 1999. The median also rose by almost 17 percent to $7,000. The buy-back rate of 18 percent was down from 25.5 percent in 2003.

"This market was strong all over," said Tom Ventura, OBS general manager and sales director.

In 2003, he pointed out, eight horses sold for $100,000 or more. This count jumped to 16 this year. A year ago, nine sold for $50,000 or more, and this year that number soared to 29.

Padua Stables' resident stallions drew a good response. Yes It's True, currently among the leading freshman sires, led all Florida stallions with 14 selling for $79,285. Exchange Rate, a first-crop sire, had 11 sell for $49,454. Delaware Township, the third of this group to stand at Padua Stables, and, like Exchange Rate a first-crop sire, had 21 sell for $38,985.

Songandaprayer, a first-crop stallion who stands at Marablue Farm, had 12 sell for an average of $71,416. Put It Back, at Bridlewood Farm and a first-crop stallion, had seven sell for $47,057. Straight Man, a freshman sire at Signature Stallions, had 16 sell for $39,075, and first-crop stallion Trippi, at Ocala Stud, had 13 through the ring for an average of $37,076.

Nick de Meric was the leading buyer. He bought 11 yearlings for $630,000.