03/18/2005 1:00AM

Day at races precedes two sales


The Ocala sales and festival week will begin when the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company renews its annual day at the races Monday with six black-type races worth an aggregate of $380,000. The races will be contested over the one-mile OBS training track, with the first post set for 1:30 p.m. Eastern.

The Adena Springs sale of 2-year-olds in training follows Monday's racing festival. This sale, conducted by the OBS, has a 6 p.m. starting time at the new Adena sales and training complex, about a 20-minute drive from the OBS facilities. Adena Springs South is now a few miles north of its former U.S. Route 27 site, on State Road 316, approximately 2.6 miles east of U.S. 27.

The Adena Springs 2-year-old consignment of 121 horses represents horses who were inspected, vetted, and approved by the farm's manager, Mark Roberts, and his staff. Roberts said that Adena Springs' combined north and south operations generated more than $25 million in prize money over the past two seasons.

The stallion Awesome Again, sire of the 2004 Horse of the Year, Ghostzapper, has 30 of his offspring cataloged for this sale. Awesome Again stands at Adena Springs in Midway, Ky., for $125,000.

Other stallions with 13 or more cataloged are Touch Gold (who stands for a $50,000 fee), Golden Missile ($25,000), and Running Stag ($7,500 fee). Running Stag, after the departure of Successful Appeal and Yes It's True to Kentucky, became Florida's leading juvenile sire of 2004.

The annual OBS March sale of selected 2-year-olds in training begins Tuesday at 11 a.m. This year's sale is the biggest ever in terms of numbers. The catalog has 630 horses, up from last year's 434.

"The March sale has been growing in popularity among consignors," said Tom Ventura, general manager and sales director for OBS. "We looked at more horses than in the past, and because of the demand to sell in March, we did our best to satisfy most of this demand."

Where once almost all the better Florida-bred 2-year-olds sold in February's south Florida market, not so anymore. There are 182 Florida-breds cataloged for OBS March, approximately twice as many as were cataloged for last month's OBS sale at Calder. Most consignors say the choice is based on having more time available for preparing their horses, the growing popularity of the March sale, and the cost savings achieved by training and selling in the same venue. Ocala Stud, for example, took eight to the February sale at Calder but has 17 cataloged for Tuesday's sale.

Montbrook (standing at Ocala Stud) and Yes It's True (standing at Three Chimneys Farm in Kentucky) have the most offspring cataloged, with 12 each. Successful Appeal (Walmac Farm in Kentucky) and Sweetsouthernsaint (Ocala Stud) both have four cataloged. Running Stag (Adena Springs South) has three in the sale.

For those who missed workouts for either the Adena Springs sale or the OBS selected sale, there are video tapes of all the sales horses. It should be pointed out that Adena Springs management does time its sales horses before selling. The sales horses open-gallop rather than breeze.

"We try to have our sales horses gallop a furlong between 12 and 14 seconds," Roberts said. "We have tapes of our horses on the dirt and others on our turf course."

Year's best to be honored at dinner

Florida's horse of the year will be announced at the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders' and Owners' Association awards dinner Sunday night.

The awards dinner will be held at Steinbrenner's Ramada Inn, with cocktails beginning at 6:30 p.m.