08/25/2006 12:00AM

OBS sale lives up to billing


Sales companies' selection teams can only go by what they see when it comes to anticipating auction results. Tom Ventura and his Ocala Breeders' Sales selection team liked what they saw months ago in scouting the yearlings nominated to this past week's selected yearling sales session.

They liked the individuals and they liked the overall pedigrees.

"Last year's 2-year-old sales season was solid," said Ventura, the general manager and sales manager for the OBS, "and I thought this would carry over to the yearling market as pinhookers prepared for the '07 2-year-old market."

Ventura's expectations were realized as Tuesday's OBS selected session set several records. Of the 284 cataloged, 176 were sold for a record gross of $10.4 million and a record average of $59,247. In 2005, 182 sold for a gross of $9.1 million with an average of $50,393. This computes to a 17.6 percent increase in the average and a 12.5 percent increase in the median to $45,000, each an all-time high for an OBS selected yearling sale. The buy-back rate, however, did rise from 30.2 percent to 32.3 percent.

Conformation and charisma were the twin criteria for fetching six-figure bids. The sales-topper, Hip No. 220, consigned by Martin Stables South, is the product of a $40,000 2004 Keeneland fall sales broodmare purchase. The chestnut yearling's pedigree particulars have remained about the same since his dam was purchased, but he is a looker. So much so that Kentuckian Ken McPeek had to win a $300,000 bidding duel to get him. McPeek was ebullient in his after-purchase comments about the colt, using such descriptions as "flawless," and "best horse in the sale," and "one of the best Smart Strikes I've ever laid eyes on."

Another charismatic yearling colt who far outstripped his siblings was Hip No. 165, an impressive-looking, mature son of Full Mandate. The yearling, second foal of the mare Willa, an unraced daughter of Wild Again, brought a bid of $180,000. There were seven additional yearlings sold from the first-crop stallion Full Mandate, and they averaged $37,357.

Nick de Meric was the leading buyer at the selected session, both for himself and as agent for various pin-hooking partnerships.

"Yes, indeed, it was a strong sale," said De Meric, who purchased nine yearlings for $552,000. "I feel good about what I bought. I did not get everything that I went after, but that's what makes a good sale. It shows that the industry still has wings."

Two from Lightnin N Thunder's first crop of yearlings were entered in the selected session, and they sold for $105,000 and $60,000, putting the Bridlewood Farm stallion first in average ($82,500) among the Florida first-crop stallions represented in the selected session.

Lightnin N Thunder was a lightly raced horse. He won his maiden and placed in two listed stakes as a 2-year-old. In all, he earned $68,510 in four starts at 2. Ordinarily, a record like this might not earn a stall in the Bridlewood Farm stallion barn, but the gray horse is by Storm Cat, and his dam, Things Change, by Stalwart, won the Grade 1 Spinaway and placed in three additional graded races at 2.

Onward and upward for Sherman

Sherman Family Trust LLC, formerly Farnsworth Farms, had over 100 yearlings to sell at this sale. This is the penultimate auction for the trust, which comprises Mike Sherman, sister Dayle Silver, and their respective children. The mares and weanlings go in the OBS fall mixed sale.

Mike Sherman said he also would be buying yearlings.

"I am buying for myself," said Sherman. "I know the histories of these yearlings, and I'm not getting out of a business I enjoy being in. What are you going to do at my age, teach me a new game?"

Sherman is pinhooking his yearling purchases into next year's OBS April sale of 2-year-olds in training, and those he doesn't sell he will race. "Same old, same old," he said.