03/17/2009 11:00PM

Indian Charlie filly tops OBS Day 1

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - The Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's March select 2-year-old sale opened Tuesday with declines across the board between 20 percent and 36 percent. But it also produced some signs that a variety of buyers are still shopping for racehorses, whatever the newspapers and economists are saying about the global financial climate.

The auction figured to show declines this year. It was coming off record figures in 2008 and facing the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. But the two-day auction's opening session still sold 16 horses for $200,000 or more to an array of bidders.

The session sold 115 horses this year for $11,080,000, a 30 percent decrease from last year's total for 110 horses. Average dropped 33 percent to $96,348, and median fell 22 percent. Buy-backs increased from 36 percent last season to 40 percent.

The session topper was Hip No. 212, a $425,000 Indian Charlie filly bought by Grace Stables, a new racing stable operated by Jess Jackson's wife, Barbara Banke. Jerry Bailey Sales agency sold the filly, who worked in 10.20 seconds at the under-tack show. The bay filly is out of the stakes-winning Tactical Cat mare Hollywood and Wine. Gulf Coast Farm, co-owned by Bailey, had bought the filly for $200,000 at the 2008 Keeneland September sale.

Also selling for $300,000 or more were Hip No. 112, a $400,000 Grand Slam-Cosmic Wish colt that Jess Jackson's racing stable, Stonestreet Stables, bought from Off the Hook, agent; Hip No. 174, a $360,000 Macho Uno-Forbidden Kiss filly that Elite Horse Racing and Silverton Hill bought from Eddie Woods, agent; and Hip No. 216, a $300,000 Tapit-H. R. H. Doodle colt that Kaleem Shah purchased from Old South Farm.

The two-day sale got off to a strong start when the first horse in the ring, a Maria's Mon colt out of stakes winner Uluvitnunoit, brought $170,000 from Stonestreet. The run of six-figure horses picked up steam by midday, though the "withdrawn" and "not sold" designations also figured prominently on the results sheet. In addition to the 40 percent buy-back rate, sellers also scratched 68 horses in the 260-horse session.

Among the most noticeable buy-backs was Hip No. 47, a Stormy Atlantic-Beauty Bug filly that went unsold on a final bid of $390,000. As a yearling, she sold for $150,000 at the Keeneland September sale last year to Shamrock Sales, which consigned her at OBS.

But, lest anyone get the idea the 2-year-old business is an easy game, consider the down side: it's a highly selective market. Even prominent sellers only hit occasional home runs, like Off the Hook's $400,000 sale of Hip No. 112; they bought the Grand Slam colt for $80,000 last September. Jerry Bailey's consignment provided an example of the feast-or-famine aspect of the auction. Bailey topped the session with its $425,000 Indian Charlie filly and also sold Hip No. 53, a $280,000 Giant's Causeway-Biogio's Rose colt, to Todd Pletcher, agent. But the consignment bought back its four other horses on hammer prices ranging from $25,000 to $160,000.

Still, much of the session showed signs of what passes today for exuberance as bidders repeatedly broke the $100,000 barrier in pursuit of potential racehorses.

Among the 16 horses that sold for $200,000 or more at Monday's opening session were Hip No. 243, a $290,000 Indian Charlie-Joi's Flame filly that Ike and Dawn Thrash bought from Niall Brennan, agent; Hip No. 13, a $250,000 Value Plus-Western Resolve colt that Let's Go Stable also bought from Brennan; Hip No. 176, a $250,000 Cherokee Run-Fortuesque colt that John Sadler, agent, got from Hartley/De Renzo, agent; Hip No. 108, a $240,000 Speightstown-Copano Bay colt that Padua Stables purchased from Eddie Woods, agent; and Hip No. 183, a $240,000 Rock Hard Ten-Gemilli filly that West Point (Buzz Chace, agent) got from Eisaman Equine, agent.

The sale was to continue at 11 a.m. Wednesday at OBS in Ocala, Fla.

Mixed results at Adena Springs sale

On Monday, the 70-horse Adena Springs 2-year-old sale in Williston, Fla., ended with mixed results. A smaller catalog contributed to a 59 percent decline in gross, but average also fell by 18 percent. The good news was the median, which jumped 29 percent.

The auction late Monday afternoon sold 48 juveniles for $2,149,000, down 59 percent from last year's $5,283,500 gross for 97 horses. Average price fell to $44,771. But the median price of $36,000 rebounded sharply from last season, when it suffered a double-digit loss to hit $28,000.

The sale topper was a $250,000 Ghostzapper colt out of Grade 1 winner Collect the Cash. F. Thomas Conway purchased the bay colt, a half-brother to Canadian stakes-placed Money My Honey.

Five horses were withdrawn from the original catalog of 70 and 17 failed to reach their reserves, for a buy-back rate of 26 percent.

All of the horses were consigned by Adena Springs, which hosted the auction at its Florida farm in Williston.

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