02/19/2009 12:00AM

Numbers down at Ocala sale

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The Ocala Breeders' Sales Company kicked off the select 2-year-old season Tuesday with across-the-board losses, but not as severe as those seen at last fall's mixed sales.

As expected, the upper market fared relatively well at the Ocala, Fla., auction. Twelve horses brought $200,000 or more, including a sale-topping $340,000 Graeme Hall filly and a pair that brought $300,000. Another horse, a Distorted Humor-Age of Silver filly consigned by Niall Brennan, was a buy-back at $320,000.

The session followed a record-breaking year and saw substantial declines. It sold 95 horses, up from last year's 89, but gross receipts fell 29 percent to $9,925,700. The $104,481 average price was down 34 percent from last year's record, and the median fell 28 percent from last year's figure, also a record. Buy-backs increased from 28 percent last year to 38 percent.

The sale topper was Hip No. 107, a $340,000 chestnut Graeme Hall filly out of Vines of Justice, by Judge T C. Buzz Chace signed the ticket on behalf of West Point Thoroughbreds. The filly's dam was a winner but has not had any foals to race yet. She is from the family of Grade 1 winner Blushing K.D. Eddie Woods, agent, was the consignor.

Another trend, also expected, was the lower price ceiling for the auction's most expensive horses. At last year's juvenile sales, high-end bidders often kept a tighter grip on their purses than in previous years, and that appears to be continuing in 2009's far softer general economy. Last year's sale-topping price was $520,000 for Boca Belle, a West Point purchase in partnership with Lakland Farm and John Williams.

The fastest workers at the auction's under-tack show last week also brought good prices. They included Hip No. 46, a Dehere-Paris Rose filly that Sequel Bloodstock, agent, sold to Westrock Stables for $250,000; Hip No. 119, a Consolidator-Aray filly that Leprecaun Racing, agent, sold to John Ferguson Bloodstock for $180,000; and Hip No. 86, a Consolidator-Sutter Sutter filly that Wavertree Stables, agent, sold to West Point (Buzz Chace, agent) for $115,000. All three topped the eighth-mile work tab with 9.6-second breezes.

Of the three horses who breezed the fastest quarter-miles, in 20.4 seconds, the highest priced was Hip No. 74, a $225,000 Yes It's True-Silverlado colt that Eisaman Equine, agent, sold to Dogwood Stable.