06/09/2017 4:06PM

OBS June rolls out with smaller catalog

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The Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. June sale of 2-year-olds and horses of racing age is the last stop in what has been a largely successful juvenile auction season, but that success is part of the reason why the auction looks so different from previous years.

As the last opportunity to put horses on offer during the proper juvenile season, the June sale often operates at or near capacity as sellers look to liquidate their stock. This year’s sale, however, has been reduced from four days to two and has a 37 percent smaller catalog.

The sale cataloged 767 horses after supplemental entries, down from last year’s 1,222 juveniles. This year’s catalog has 755 juveniles and 12 racing-age horses.

The smaller pool of offerings did not surprise OBS president Tom Ventura, who noted that some of the offerings have been redistributed across the calendar, including the OBS March sale, which cataloged 74 more entries this year.

It is also worth noting that the 2-year-old market was in flux last spring, when an increasingly polarized market saw plenty of sellers take a slim profit or sell for a loss on horses who fell below the median. Pinhook buyers took note, and many adjusted during the following yearling season to focus on buying horses who would stay out of the lower-end markets as juveniles.

The shift in philosophy was especially clear at last year’s Keeneland September yearling sale, where notable pinhook buyers began showing up on the buyer line earlier than usual in the bellwether sale. Many of those horses ended up at higher-profile sales earlier in the season, but the trickle-down effect is apparent.

With that being said, the June sale certainly has progressed from an “everything-must-go” event to a legitimate marketplace for a valuable horse. The bar for the most expensive horse ever sold at the OBS June sale has risen several times over the past five years, most recently last year, when a City Zip colt brought $800,000.

“For a long time, the perception was this was the last-chance place for the horses that were left, but there are quality horses that have come out of this sale,” Ventura said. “Some horses that may need a little more time to show their best will be here in June. Some horses have been bought back at an earlier sale, and they gave them a breather and came back to try again.”

The sale will take place Tuesday and Wednesday, beginning each day at 10:30 a.m. Eastern. The presale under-tack show was held over the Ocala Training Center’s all-weather Safetrack surface.

Last year’s OBS June sale took a step back from the 2015 auction, which posted record returns in gross and average. The 2016 auction finished with 635 horses sold for $18,077,400, a 25 percent decline in gross. The average sale price fell 39 percent to $28,468, while the median decreased 28 percent to $13,000.

Frank Fletcher Racing Operations bought last year’s record-breaking sale-topper, a City Zip colt out of the Grade 3-placed Successful Appeal mare Successful Sarah, for $800,000. Later named C Z Rocket, the colt is training toward his debut.

Notable graduates of last year’s sale include Grade 3 winner Shane’s Girlfriend and stakes winners Lovely Bernadette, R Angel Katelyn, Chance of Luck, and Mo Cash.