08/20/2015 7:55PM

OBS August: Market enthusiasm ahead of sale


The upward trajectory of prices in the North American yearling market has continued through the early sales of 2015, giving consignors reason for optimism heading into the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. August yearling sale.

The three-day auction will be held Tuesday through Thursday, beginning each day at 11 a.m. Eastern. A select session of 217 yearlings will kick off the sale Tuesday, followed by a pair of open sessions.

This August’s OBS catalog features 812 yearlings, a 21.2 percent decline from the 1,030 yearlings cataloged in last year’s sale. For the three-day sale last year, 666 yearlings sold for $14,228,300, an average of $21,364, which represented a 14 percent decline in average from the 2013 sale.

“The market has been pretty strong,” OBS president Tom Ventura said. “The 2-year-old sales were very good, and the yearling sales are off to a good start, so we’re hopeful that we can continue that. We’ve got a nice book of horses, and the select day has some quality and sire power to go with it.”

The sale follows a run of solid returns at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July, Saratoga select, and New York-bred yearling sales, along with the well-received debut of the Barretts select yearling sale. OBS itself experienced record results with all three of its juvenile sales this year, highlighted by the most expensive offering in the auction house’s history at its open spring sale in April.

“The people are paying for quality with some pedigree, and it’s a good sign,” Ventura said. “I think it’s a market that’s strong right now but not out of control. That’s good because people feel they can buy a horse and maybe pay a bit of a premium but not overpay dramatically.”

In addition to increased numbers on sale summaries, there has been a noticeable bump in activity by newcomers to the buying bench – both those starting out in the business or testing the waters in new markets for the first time.

“I have a lot of people who said they’re coming down, new buyers, because the last two years, we’ve had great success getting stakes horses out of that sale,” said Francis Vanlangendonck of consignor Summerfield Sales. “The numbers are very impressive, and people are seeing that.

“One of the things I look at is if [people on the grounds] are wanting to buy or if they’re kicking tires – and they’re wanting to buy a nice horse. The bull’s-eye might be a little smaller than it was in the past, but it’s bigger than it was a couple years ago. I think the market’s going to be good, and people want to buy horses. I think it’ll be a good sale across the board.”

The OBS August sale is the only yearling sale by a major auction house in the Southeast. Central Florida is best known as a destination to break yearlings and prepare them for the track or auction ring as juveniles, which makes the sale a popular target for the local participants in that segment of the industry. Many of the horses sold at OBS August will remain in Central Florida to be resold on the same grounds in seven to 10 months.

“The OBS yearling sale has always been kind of a little hidden deal where all the pinhookers sit there in their backyard and pluck out all the top ones,” said Carrie Brogden of consignor Select Sales. “There’s a lot of really good horses that have come out of that market, and I think that some of the end users have got to start paying attention to that sale.”

Because of its reputation as a pinhooker-friendly sale, Brogden said the auction tends to attract the kind of horse with potential to one day show well at a 2-year-old sale’s under-tack show.

“It’s a great place to buy an athlete,” she said. “A lot of the time, they don’t have the big, sexy pedigrees, but there’s obviously tons of runners that come out of that sale. You’ve got some pretty exciting young sires down there.”

Last August’s sale finished with declines in average price in the both the select portion and the open sessions. The reduced number of horses cataloged this year might prevent further declines this week.

A total of 170 horses were sold during the 2014 select session for $7,830,700, up 2 percent from the previous year. The average sale price fell 14.5 percent to $46,063, while the median price dipped 17 percent to $35,000.

A colt from the first crop of sire Big Drama out of the Out of Place mare Doc’s Doll topped the select session, going to George Bolton for $230,000. Consigned by Beth Bayer as agent, the colt was later named Unintimidated and is working toward his first start in Southern California.

The open portion of last year’s catalog saw 496 horses sell for $6,397,600, down 24.2 percent from the previous year’s open sessions. The average dipped 22.5 percent to $12,898, while the median fell 38 percent to $8,000.

Hal Queen bought the top open-session offering, a Big Drama colt out of the Unreal Zeal mare Kickapoo Princess, for $185,000. The colt was consigned by Summerfield as agent and later named Dangerous Bend.