03/21/2006 12:00AM

Darley Stable pays $475,000 for colt

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One day after the auction house hosted its annual racing day in Ocala, Fla., the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. made a strong start at its 2-year-old sale Tuesday, with a $475,000 Deputy Commander colt the top lot on a final bid from Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum's Darley Stable.

Niall Brennan Stables, agent, sold the colt. Offered as Hip No. 241, the bay colt is out of Regrets Only, a Black Tie Affair mare who also has produced the Grade 3-placed Commander's Affair. That runner is a full brother to the session-topper.

Fewer horses went through the ring this year than last, a fact that caused the opening-day gross to drop. From 141 lots sold this year, the session grossed $12,640,000, down 15.6 percent from last year's $14,985,000 for 188 juveniles. But average rose 12.5 percent from $79,707 at last year's opening day to $89,645 this season. Median was unavailable at 5:30 p.m. Eastern.

The Deputy Commander colt was one of 53 lots to bring six figures, bearing out the sale company's confidence in the top of the market. Three, including the session-topper, sold for at least $400,000. In addition to the session-topping Deputy Commander colt, there were a $440,000 Cherokee Run-Glory Way filly that Egyptian beverage tycoon Ahmed Zayat purchased from Mayberry Farm, agent, and a $400,000 Five Star Day colt out of Saucy Maisie that Castletop Stable bought from the Hartley/De Renzo Thoroughbreds agency.

The session's results suggested that the strong upper market for 2-year-olds this season was lifting the middle market, too. The OBS March catalog is not likely to produce a sale-topper that could threaten The Green Monkey's $16 million world auction record, set in late February at Fasig-Tipton's Calder sale. But the two-day OBS auction, which traditionally offers more middle-market fare, showed in its first session that many buyers who generally avoid bidding above $1 million for their juveniles were feeling bullish about horses in the $125,000 to $250,000 range.

The auction was scheduled to continue with its second and final session on Wednesday at the OBS pavilion in Ocala. The final session was set to start at 11 a.m. Eastern.