03/21/2003 1:00AM

Gross up, average down at OBS sale


The Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's auction of selected 2-year-olds in training, held Tuesday and Wednesday, posted a gross of $18,196,000 for 273 horses sold - second highest in OBS history. The OBS lists 273 sold compared to 200 last March. The average price of $66,654 reflected a decline of roughly 10 percent from the 2002 sale and the median dipped from $53,500 to $50,000. The buy-back rate also declined from near 38 percent last year to just over 33 percent this year.

"Given the times we are living in, I thought things went smoothly," said OBS sales director Tom Ventura. "We had many newcomers to these sales and the top of the market was very strong. Last year, for example, we sold 13 horses in the $200,000-plus category. This year that number climbed to 17."

Speed is the principal criteria for success at these sales. Those who flash it, get large bids. Those who do not are pretty much ignored. The four 2-year-olds who brought $300,000 or more - Hip No. 81 (filly by American Chance), Hip No. 110 (colt by Subordination), Hip No. 214 (filly by Salt Lake), and Hip No. 300 (colt by Two Punch) - all worked in 21 seconds and change for a quarter-mile in one of the sale's under tack shows.

Two Punch is tops

The leading stallion of the sale was the Mr. Prospector stallion Two Punch. He is the sire of three juveniles that sold for an average of $197,333. Ocala Stud's Montbrook was the leading Florida stallion. Eight of Montbrook's get were sold for an average of $110,500. The leading buyer at the sale was Equine Analysis Systems Inc., agent, which bought seven 2-year-olds for an average of $82,714. The leading consignor was Eisaman Equine Services, selling 22 horses for $1,485,000.

Adena Springs sale

Frank Stronach's Adena Springs South Farm held a 2-year-olds in training sale under the auspices of the OBS Thursday. Unlike typical sales of 2-year-olds in training, the Adena Springs version called for the sales horses to open gallop rather than zip a furlong or quarter-mile. Sixty-two of the 88 cataloged were sold for $1,947,500, for an average of $31,411, an increase of nearly a third over the 2002 average. The median was down slightly from last year, and the buy-back rate of 17 percent was also down from last year's rate of 41 percent.

There were co-sales toppers at $120,000. Francis McDonnell, owner of Cimarron Farm in Ocala, bought Hip No. 8, a colt by Boston Harbor out of stakes winner Belle's Appeal. Linda Rice, agent, bought Hip No. 46, a Touch Gold filly out of the stakes winner Little Miss Fast.

Jules, top Florida sire

The former Bridlewood Farm stallion Jules is Florida's leading sire. The 9-year-old son of Forty Niner now stands in Brazil. He is the sire of Louisiana Derby winner Peace Rules.

George Isaacs, manager of Bridlewood Farm, is repeatedly asked whether he'll bring Jules back to Florida.

"Remains to be seen," Isaacs said. "Bridlewood has the right to bring him back, but let's see how Peace Rules does and if there's demand out there for Jules to come back."

Mangurian top breeder, again

The Florida Thoroughbred Breeders' and Owners' Association held it's annual awards banquet Monday. Florida's horse of the year for 2002 is Booklet, a Grade 1 stakes winner. Harry T. Mangurian Jr.'s Mockingbird Farm won the award as breeder of the year for the fifth year in succession.

Stallion of the year was Montbrook and broodmare of the year was the former Mockingbird Farm matron Sheer Ice, dam of Met Mile winner Swept Overboard. Ocala Stud's Concerto won freshman sire for 2002, and Jim Cavanaugh was cited as breeder of Ruskin, a multiple-stakes-winning gelding, who at the age of 9 was selected Florida claimer of the year.