04/15/2004 11:00PM

Juvenile sale lures international market


The Ocala Breeders' Sales Company promotes its spring sale of 2-year-olds in training as the biggest of its kind anywhere. And there is truth in its advertising, as an estimated thousand or more 2-year-olds out of the 1,210 originally cataloged will sell at this year's auction. The four-day sale begins Monday and continues daily through Thursday, with a 10:30 a.m. starting time.

"I don't know of anything happening in the industry since our March selected sale of 2-year-olds in training that would cause me to be anything but optimistic for this sale," said Tom Ventura, sales director of the OBS.

Ventura said he thinks that many buyers who were shut out of earlier sales - OBS at Calder, Fasig-Tipton at Calder, and OBS March - because of lofty prices will have their opportunities at this sale.

There will be new players in April, Ventura points out.

"We have substantial credit applications from Korea, Puerto Rico, and Barbados," he said.

Ventura, at the invitation of the Korean Racing Association, visited South Korea over Christmas and was impressed with what he saw.

"There are two Thoroughbred tracks in Korea," said Ventura. "Seoul has one and another track is being built in Busan. The new track, I was told, will cost in the hundreds of millions of dollars, and it will be ready next year."

As of now, Ventura was informed, there are 93 days of racing a year at the track in Seoul, all on the weekends. Koreans sent $6 billion through the windows last year. Purses are estimated to be around $173,000 per day.

The Korean Racing Association tried the Ocala market for the first time last year, buying a few yearlings, but it is expected to buy far greater numbers at this week's sale - 50 or more. Korean buyers seek horses with Northern Hemisphere birthdates because Japan-breds are expensive. European markets, due to the rise in the value of the Euro, are also expensive for Korean pocketbooks. This leaves North America as the prime market to shop for Thoroughbreds.

Wised Up's juveniles enter market

Getting his first market test as a 2-year-old stallion this week is Rising Hill Farm's Wised Up, a bay son of Dixieland Band-Wising Up, by Smarten. The 8-year-old stallion raced mostly in New York, where as a 4-year-old he won the Grade 3 Fort Marcy Handicap, a race he came back to place in the following year. In between he placed in the Grade 2 Belmont Breeders' Cup Handicap, Grade 3 Kelso Handicap, and Grade 3 Poker Handicap.

"His 2-year-olds are quicker than what we expected," said Sheila DiMare, co-owner and manager of Rising Hill Farm. "I know stallion people love to say that, but it is true. We have four 2-year-olds by Wised Up currently in training at Calder Race Course and they should be racing soon."

Popular stallions

Farnsworth Farm's resident sire Double Honor leads the stallion roster with most 2-year-olds in this sale, 33. The son of Gone West is Florida's leading sire with three crops of racing age.

Other sires who have a substantial number of juveniles cataloged include Precise End (by End Sweep) with 26 and Family Calling, by Mr. Prospector, with 21.

* The Florida-New York breeding connection is a growing one. In last year's OBS April 2-year-old sale there were 75 New York-breds cataloged. This year the number of New York-breds cataloged has risen to 108.