03/18/2008 11:00PM

More Than Ready colt tops record OBS sale

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The second and final day of the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co.'s March select 2-year-old sale showed buyers in a bullish mood as numerous horses selling for $300,000 and above helped push the auction to record levels.

The auction ended Wednesday afternoon with 233 juveniles sold for $33,380,000, a 26 percent increase from last year's two-day sale, when 253 horses sold. Average price skyrocketed up 36.5 percent, from $104,905 to $143,262. Median jumped 22 percent, from $82,000 to $100,000.

Gross, average, and median were all records for the sale.

Buy-backs also fell slightly, from last year's 33 percent to 32 percent.

Wednesday's top price, and the high mark for the two-day sale this year, was the $650,000 paid for Hip No. 373, a son of More Than Ready and Jouled Rhythms. David Clark's Iron Horse Racing bought the chestnut colt from Nick De Meric, agent. Hip No. 373 is a half-brother to stakes-placed Blue Angel and had worked a furlong in 10 seconds at the March 10 under-tack show, both facts that contributed to his popularity with bidders. His final price beat out Tuesday's session-topper, a $625,000 Broken Vow colt bought by Ahmed Zayat, but that colt remained the auction's second-highest-priced juvenile.

Iron Horse Racing also bought a $425,000 Forest Wildcat filly out of On the Town that sold as Hip No. 455 in Eddie Woods's consignment. That filly is from the family of former champion turf runner Laugh and Be Merry.

De Meric purchased Hip No. 373 for $110,000 at last year's Keeneland September yearling auction. The colt initially had been cataloged to the OBS February select sale in Ocala on Feb. 12 but was scratched there.

Wednesday's session got off to a fast start, much as the opening session had on Tuesday. Within the first hour, Wednesday's results sheet already showed half a dozen purchases for $300,000 or more, a number that eventually grew to 14 for the session; three brought $500,000 or more. Those included a $550,000 Trippi filly out of the Silver Hawk mare Chi. Sold as Hip No. 242, the filly went to John Ferguson, the representative for Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum's Darley Stable. She was the highest-priced filly at a session that saw notably strong prices for fillies.

Currently named White Lamb, Hip No. 242 - who is dark bay or brown, by the way, and not gray, white, or roan - was part of Woodside Ranch's consignment on behalf of New Bridge Bloodstock. She previously sold for $60,000 in 2007 at the OBS August yearling auction.

Like the sale topper, White Lamb breezed an eighth of a mile in 10 seconds at the under-tack show.

The horses selling for $300,000 and up went to an array of bidders, providing evidence that one of the healthiest parts of the select juvenile marketplace was to be found in the $300,000 to $600,000 range - the upper market at this auction but what would have been considered the middle level in the wider market a few years ago, when the boutique juvenile boom regularly was producing sale toppers above the $2 million mark. But the 2008 select 2-year-old sales have seen such extravagant bidding taper off dramatically as high rollers lower the ceiling on their bidding and the market's midlevel spenders hold the line or step up slightly.

Other high prices at the Wednesday OBS session included Hip No. 456, a $500,000 Dixie Union-Open Flirt filly that Mike Ryan, agent, bought from Niall Brennan, agent; Hip No. 276, a $490,000 Exchange Rate-Disperse a Star filly that Reynolds Bell Thoroughbred Services purchased from Brennan, agent; Hip No. 398, a $400,000 Dixie Union-Lindsay Frolic colt that B. Wayne Hughes purchased from Becky Boyd's Peacock Ridge agency; Hip No. 440, a $375,000 Tapit-My White Corvette filly that Christopher Paasch bought from Michael Yates's Shadybrook Farm agency; Hip No. 258, a $375,000 Posse-Corporate Spirit colt that George Bolton bought from Murray Smith, agent; and Hip No. 448, a $350,000 Yonaguska-Noon Time Dancer filly that trainer Todd Pletcher, as agent, bought from Brennan's agency.