03/15/2010 11:00PM

High end strong at Ocala sale

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A $400,000 Smart Strike colt that Virginia-based owner Kaleem Shah bought sent a strong signal Tuesday that, at least at the top of the market, buyers will still willing to spend money for racing prospects at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company.

The Smart Strike colt was the session-topper at the OBS March select 2-year-old sale's opening session in Ocala, Fla. The session also saw a 4-percent rise in the average price and a 7-percent gain in median, though gross receipts fell 20 percent, partly because of a smaller catalog. The total number of horses cataloged to the two-day sale in 2010 is 339, down from 523 last year.

The session sold 87 juveniles for $8,656,000, down from last year's $10,820,000 for 113 horses. The 2010 average was $99,494, up from $95,752. The $75,000 median this year was up from last season's opening-day figure of $70,000. The buy-back percentage also declined. from 41 percent in 2009 to 29 percent this season. Fifty-one horses were withdrawn from the session.

Tuesday's opening session produced 36 horses who sold for $100,000 or more and 13 who sold for $200,000 or more.

Donato Lanni signed for the $400,000 session-topper as agent and said after signing the ticket that the purchase was for Shah. Niall Brennan Stables consigned the bay colt, a son of the Dixieland Band mare Dixie Holiday. The colt is a half-brother to the recently deceased stakes winner Holiday Runner, dam of Grade 1 winner Seventh Street, who topped Fasig-Tipton's November mixed sale last year at $2.15 million when in foal to Tiznow. She died earlier this year at Jane and Frank Lyon's Summer Wind Farm in Georgetown, Ky., after producing the Tiznow colt, named Now and Then.

Offered as Hip No. 93, the Smart Strike colt was one of the fastest workers on Saturday at the auction's first under-tack preview when he covered eighth of a mile in 10.20 seconds.

The second and final OBS March session was to begin Wednesday at 11 a.m. at the sale company's pavilion in Ocala.