03/16/2015 1:15PM

OBS March sale rolls out expanded format


The Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. March 2-year-olds in training sale has seen unprecedented growth over the past three years, and will expand in a different way for its 2015 renewal.

The two-day auction has removed the “select” modifier from its title, opening the catalog up to a broader range of juveniles and raising its population to 610 entries, up 48 percent from the 411 offered in 2014.

“We’re venturing into a territory we haven’t been before,” said OBS president Tom Ventura. “The sale is structured differently than it has been in the past, so we won’t be able to compare apples to apples when we’re looking at the raw numbers, but just based on the catalog that we have and the early interest from the buyers, I’m looking forward to a good sale.”

This year’s edition of the OBS March sale will be held March 17-18, beginning each day at 11 a.m. Eastern.

The OBS March sale has been on a roll over the past three renewals, surpassing its record median sale prices each year and eclipsing its record average price the past two years. The past two editions closed with a new high-water mark by gross, and that streak could easily extend to a third year with a significantly larger catalog.

With that in mind, Ventura said the decision to change the March sale formula wasn’t easy, but one he hopes accentuates the auction’s strengths – namely, a broad catalog in a part of the juvenile calendar dominated by boutique sales.

“The thought was we would like to expand the numbers in the sale, as that seems to bring a deeper, broader buying base to attend,” he said. “One thing we wanted to be assured by the consignors was we were going to be able to still get the premier horses. We didn’t want them to go to alternate locations to sell, and looking at what we have in the catalog we certainly have plenty of cream at the top.

“The next tier of horses we were hoping to attract were ones that might not have normally made the cut at a pure select sale, but were horses that were advanced in training,” Ventura continued. “Maybe they’re not the $250,000 horse, but it’s a nice horse that’s forward in its training in a slightly lower price range.”

Ventura said controlled growth was key to the future direction of the OBS March sale, including the current edition. He said he could foresee the sale expanding to three days in later renewals, but that was about as far as he’d like the sale to grow.

Despite the increased horse population of the March sale, Ventura said he did not expect it come at the expense of the auction house’s other two juvenile sales, particularly the spring sale of 2-year-olds in training in April.

“We had an overflow of entries for April once again,” he said. “I think the trend has been toward placing horses, whether they were a $200,000 pinhook or a $30,000 pinhook, where they were most ready. We still have a fair amount of expensive pinhooks in April. I don’t think there will be any noticeable difference in terms of the catalog quality.”

Last year’s OBS March sale was condensed to a single day after inclement weather caused postponements during the under-tack show. However, that did not deter buyers, who responded with record returns in gross, average, and median prices.

A total of 201 horses changed hands during the 2014 March sale for revenues of $37,627,500, up 31 percent from the previous year’s sale. The average sale price improved by 20 percent, finishing at $187,201, while the median rose 8 percent to $135,000.

A pair of colts topped the sale, each hammering for $1.6 million.

Stonestreet Stables secured a Giant’s Causeway colt out of the Grade 2-placed stakes-winning Unbridled’s Song mare Rebridled Dreams who was later named Carpe Diem.

Bred in Kentucky by Coffee Pot Stable and sold as property of Northwest Stud, Carpe Diem has become one of the leading contenders on the Kentucky Derby trail, winning the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity and finishing second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last year, and returning as a sophomore to take the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby by five lengths on March 7.

Qatar-based Al Shaqab Racing purchased a Tapit colt out of the winning Mr. Greeley mare Rhumb Line, making him a full brother to multiple Grade 1 winner Zazu and Grade 2 winner Flashback. The gray or roan colt, later named Farraj, is unraced through March 11.

Bred in Kentucky by SF Bloodstock and consigned as agent by Eddie Woods, Farraj is a full or half-sibling to four winners from five runners, also including stakes winner Corinthian’s Jewel and English Group 2-placed Art Princess.

The 2014 OBS March sale has also produced Grade 2 winner Ekati’s Phaeton and Grade 3 winners Cinco Charlie, Night Prowler, and Ocean Knight.