02/11/2005 1:00AM

OBS sale starts slow, finishes strong

The $600,000 topper is one of three expensive colts bought by Puglisi Stable.

There was some trepidation but no lack of confidence by management as the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's sale of 2-year-olds in training, held at Calder Race Course last Tuesday, was not keeping pace with the early numbers posted last year.

Tom Ventura, the general manager for OBS, was quick to point out that many of the heavy hitters were closer to the end of the sale. And so they were.

When Hip No. 205 was led out of the ring for $90,000 to end the auction, it wasn't long before OBS announced that this was a record sale. The average was up a tad to $136,890, but the median was up a whopping 37 percent from $87,500 last year to $120,000 this year. Both were all-time highs. The buy-back rate fell from 34 percent to 30 percent. A total of 22 horses sold for $200,000 or more, two more than last year.

This sale, according to members of the OBS selection-inspection committee, was among the best in recent years in the all-important categories of appearance and conformation.

"This is as good a group of Thoroughbred athletes that we've ever cataloged," Ventura said prior to the auction.

The sale-topper, Hip No. 195, consigned by Mike Mulligan's Leprechaun Racing, agent, is a chestnut colt by the Padua Stable sire Dance Master and a February foal out of the stakes-placed Tour d'Or dam More d'Amour. He confirmed his eye-catching appearance with a 21.40-second under tack workout. Steve Klesaris, trainer for owner Jeffrey Puglisi, signed the $600,000 sales tab.

Klesaris also signed the tabs for Hip No. 171, a chestnut colt by Phone Trick, for $550,000, and Hip No. 92, a chestnut colt by Artax, for $300,000. The sales slips for the three chestnut colts added up to $1,450,000, making the Puglisi Stable the auction's leading buyer.

Nick de Meric, agent, and Leprechaun Stable tied for leading consignors by each selling $1,395,000. Leprechaun Stable, agent, sent nine to the ring and eight sold; de Meric had nine sell from 10 opportunities. Others to top the $1 million mark in sales were Moonshadow Farm (Mark and Tina Casse), agent, with 12 of 16 selling, and Mike O'Farrell's Ocala Stud with seven of seven selling.

Florida sires with sales horses selling for many times their stud fees were led by Dance Master ($3,500), represented by the sale-topper. Songandaprayer ($10,000) had two sell for an average of $130,000. Trippi ($7,500) had a pair going for an average of $117,000. Straight Man ($6,000) had two sell for a $107,500 average and Tiger Ridge ($7,500) had two average $102,500.

The ubiquitous Cot Campbell was the leading buyer in terms of numbers. Campbell bought six for $675,000. John Oxley, also a sales regular, bought three for $625,000 as did Mike Gill, this sale's leading buyer a couple of years back but inconspicuous lately.

Fortunate Prospect pensioned

Fortunate Prospect, one of Florida's all-time leading sires, has been pensioned at age 24.

"He's getting old, like we all do," said Mike Sherman of Farnsworth Farms, where Fortunate Prospect stood at stud.

Fortunate Prospect, a dark bay horse, made his debut in the Hialeah Sales Stakes in March 1983. It was well known, due to his rapid morning trials, that he was a runner. He galloped to victory by 20 lengths. He won 13 of 39 lifetime starts, including 12 stakes, while earning $439,875.

Fortunate Prospect entered stud as a syndicated stallion, and his first crop raced in 1988. That crop, numbering 45 in all, had 42 starters, 38 winners, and one stakes winner. The final chapter has yet to be written but through 2004 the get of Fortunate Prospect have won close to $37 million.

"Fortunate Prospect is the kind of a sire that one could expect to get a quick return," Sherman said. "His record of close to 40 percent winners from 2-year-old starters is as good as it gets. I don't know of any horse that has done better.

"Farnsworth Farms has his best son in Suave Prospect, a stallion who passes on a bit more stamina to his get than his sire. But we'll sure miss Fortunate Prospect. He was good to us at the sales and on the track."