03/15/2017 6:00PM

OBS March finishes with record figures

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The 2017 renewal of the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. March sale of 2-year-olds in training finished with favorable returns, including gains in gross and average to post records in those categories, as a rallying upper market balanced out tighter conditions down the ladder.

Trade was active during Wednesday’s closing session, bringing the number of seven-figure horses to five for the overall sale, led by a $1.7-million Congrats filly.

The two-day auction saw 300 horses change hands for revenues of $56,627,000, up 10 percent from the 2016 sale when 320 horses brought $51,288,000. The average sale price rose 18 percent to $188,757 from $160,275, while the median sale price went down 2 percent to $100,000 from $102,500. The gross surpassed the prior record of $55,432,000 established in 2015), while the average edged out $187,201 achieved in 2014.

The buyback rate finished at 28 percent, marking a small increase from 26 percent in 2016.

The number of horses sold for seven figures rose to a record five from two last year, with four of those going through the ring on Wednesday. Juveniles changing hands for $500,000 or more increased to 30 from 17, while the 72 horses sold for $250,000 or more marked an improvement over 66 last year.

Bloodstock agent Kerri Radcliffe bought the $1.7-million sale-topper, who became the most expensive offering of the 2017 juvenile season to date.

The dark bay or brown Congrats filly is out of the unraced Dixie Union mare Azalea Belle, whose two foals to race are both winners. Her second dam is Grade 2 winner Westerly Breeze, and the extended page includes Grade 3 winners Jacksonport and Officer Rocket. 

The partnership of Todd Frederick, Chad Frederick, and Phoenix Farm and Racing bred the filly in Kentucky. This was the third time through the ring for the filly, who brought $60,000 as a short yearling at last year's Keeneland January horses of all ages sale, then sold to Zayat Stables for $250,000 at the Keeneland September yearling sale. McKathan Bros., a longtime partner with the Zayats in breaking their young prospects, consigned the sale-topper as agent.

The filly breezed an eighth of a mile in :9 4/5 seconds over the Ocala Training Center's all-weather Safetrack surface during the pre-sale under-tack show.

The filly became the most expensive unraced offering at a public auction by Congrats, a resident of WinStar Farm in Versailles, Ky., and his first seven-figure foal in that category. It was the second-highest overall price for a Congrats offspring at auction, trailing Grade 3 winner Jacaranda, who sold in foal to Candy Ride for $2 million at last year's Fasig-Tipton Kentucky fall select mixed sale.

Tuesday’s opening session produced the auction’s second-highest price, with a colt from the first crop of Orb going to a partnership including LNJ Foxwoods for $1.25 million.

Eddie Woods finished the sale as the leading consignor, with 23 horses sold for $8,050,000. His group was led by a $1-million Pioneerof the Nile colt who sold to Robert and Lawana Low.

Radcliffe was the auction’s top buyer, with three purchases totaling $2,925,000.

A flurry of high-priced activity early in Wednesday’s session helped propel gains for the day in gross and average sale price.

The day of trade saw 152 horses sold for $29,791,500, up 20 percent from last year’s comparable session when 151 horses sold for $24,869,500. The average sale price rose 19 percent to $195,997 from $164,699, the median fell 10 percent to $90,000 from $100,000, and the buyback rate finished at 26 percent.

Woods finished the day as the top consignor, with 15 horses sold for $4,895,000.

Lawrence Best’s OXO Equine was the day’s leading buyer with two purchases totaling $2,150,000. Both purchases were seven-figure horses: a $1.1-million Tapit filly and a $1.05-million Arch colt.

For complete sale results, click here.