03/17/2015 7:01PM

OBS March: Opening session shows positive returns in new format

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With a move away from the traditional select format, there was plenty of room for speculation as to how the 2015 Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. March 2-year-olds in training sale would compare to previous renewals.

Early returns showed a resounding success. The first of the sale’s two sessions closed Tuesday evening with figures that stacked up favorably against last year’s record-setting single-day auction, and even surpassed it in some key areas.

At the end of Tuesday’s session, OBS reported 160 horses sold for $30,540,000, trailing the final gross of the 2014 sale by 19 percent, when 201 horses brought a record $37,627,500. However, the opening session did eclipse the final gross of the 2013 sale, when 185 horses sold for $28,794,000, also a record figure at the time.

The average sale price of $190,875 outpaced the record figure of $187,201 set last year by two percent, while the median trailed the 2014 sale by four percent, from a record $135,000 to $130,000.

The top of the market made its presence felt quickly, as 15 horses sold for $500,000 or more in the opening session, surpassing the 10 to reach that mark during last year’s entire sale.

The session-topper came near the end of business on Tuesday, when Charlotte Weber’s Live Oak Plantation went to $1.4 million to purchase Zero Hour, a Bernardini colt out of the Grade 2-placed stakes-winning Miswaki mare Misty Hour.

The bay colt is a sibling to six winners from eight foals to race out of Misty Hour, including Grade 2 winner India, Group 3-placed stakes winner Sing Softly, and stakes winner Pilfer. The latter is best known as the dam of Grade 1 winner and young sire To Honor and Serve, as well as Grade 1 winner Angela Renee and Grade 1-placed stakes winner Elnaawi. To Honor and Serve, who was campaigned by Weber, and Angela Renee are both by Bernardini. Pilfer sold in foal to Bernardini for $1.95 million at the 2012 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky fall selected mixed sale.

Zero Hour’s extended family includes a cornerstone of the Darby Dan Farm broodmare band, Golden Trail, who is the pivot point for a bevy of notable runners and producers including Canadian champion Rahy’s Attorney, Grade 1 winners Memories of Silver and Winter Memories, Grade 2 winners Memories and Liberian Freighter, and Grade/Group 3 winners Java Moon, La Cloche, Russian Revival, Dynatonia and Naskra’s Return.

Zero Hour was bred in Kentucky by Summer Wind Farm, and sold for $650,000 at last year’s Keeneland September yearling sale. Steven Venosa’s SGV Thoroughbreds consigned the colt as agent at OBS. He breezed a quarter mile in :21 1/5 seconds over the Ocala Training Center’s all-weather Safetrack surface during the pre-sale under-tack show last week.

Zero Hour was the only horse of the day to hammer for seven figures, and he tied the highest price for a juvenile at North American auction in 2015. The first to hit the mark was a half brother to Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Bayern by Scat Daddy who sold to Coolmore’s M.V. Magnier to top the Fasig-Tipton Florida sale of selected 2-year-olds in training earlier this month.

Eddie Woods finished Tuesday’s session as the leading consignor by gross, with 16 horses sold for $5,507,000. His consignment accounted for two of the top five highest-priced offerings of the day, including the second most expensive juvenile, a Midnight Lute colt out of the winning Vindication mare Circumstance, who sold to Donato Lanni as agent for $900,000.

Live Oak Plantation was the day’s leading buyer, with four purchases totaling $2,480,000.

The second and final session of the OBS March sale will commence Wednesday at 11 a.m. Eastern.

For complete sale results, click here.