04/18/2014 5:47PM

OBS Spring: Focus shifts to broader market


The Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. spring sale of 2-year-olds in training will kick off the open portion of the North American juvenile auction calendar after a somewhat volatile select season.

The four-day sale will take place Monday through Thursday in Ocala, Fla., with sessions beginning daily at 10:30 a.m. Eastern. The presale under-tack show was held over the Ocala Training Center’s synthetic Safetrack surface last week.

Business has been robust during recent OBS juvenile sales, with the March sale of select 2-year-olds in training demolishing records in total sales average price, and median price last month. That sale continued the auction company’s momentum from 2013, when its 2-year-old sales consistently surpassed previous records.

“We have a horse for everybody in this catalog,” OBS president Tom Ventura said about this week’s sale. “The sale keeps producing runners. We certainly have some momentum from the March sale, so we’re certainly looking forward to it. We’ve got a good sale in front of us.”

This year’s OBS spring catalog features 1,209 entries, making it 1 percent larger than last year’s cataloged group of juveniles. Ventura said the sale’s depth has been one of the driving factors in the auction’s evolution into a destination sale for consignors and buyers alike. It is typically the largest sale of 2-year-olds in training in North America, both by duration and catalog size.

“I think the beauty of April, even more so than March, is that there is a horse for every taste and budget,” Ventura said. “I think that helps the buyers to know that when they come here, they’ll be able to buy a horse, and if they have a list of horses they’re interested in, if they don’t get No. 1, they’ll have a chance at No. 2. That also makes the consignors feel good to be able to sell their horses, whether it’s a $20,000 horse or a $900,000 horse.”

The OBS spring sale has been among the fastest-rising sales in any North American Thoroughbred auction market, posting record gross, average, and median sale prices in each of its past two editions. As a result, the auction has garnered comparisons to the Keeneland September yearling sale for its ability to provide an accurate indicator of the juvenile market’s overall health due to its size and the variety of horses on offer and buyers participating.

However, consignor Eddie Woods said the OBS spring sale’s rise in popularity is a fairly recent development.

“The sale suffered not that long ago with snobbery,” Woods said. “There was a time when the April sale was where people were supposed to go dump their horses, and the better horses were the select [sale] horses. It took a long time to get over the fact that a select horse doesn’t have to be a good horse, and a good horse doesn’t have to be a select horse. [This sale has] gotten over a lot of stuff, and now it’s basically one Grade 1 winner after another.”

Last year’s OBS spring sale finished with 815 horses sold for revenue of $48,757,000, up 46 percent from 2012. The average sale price rose 38 percent to $59,825, while the median of $35,000 was a 30 percent improvement. The buyback rate fell slightly, from 16 percent to 14 percent.

Woods said he was careful to manage his expectations heading into the 2014 renewal.

“I suppose we’ll be looking to maintain,” he said. “It’s harder to knock all the numbers out of the park when you’ve got a vast amount of horses, because the bad can dilute the good, whereas the March sale was a select sale, so for the most part, the greater part of the horses were good.”

Betty Moran’s Brushwood Stable secured the highest-priced horse at last April’s sale, going to $900,000 on a Bernardini colt out of the winning Deputy Minister mare Rooneys Princess, a daughter of champion Princess Rooney. He was consigned by the Hartley/De Renzo Thoroughbreds agency.

Noteworthy graduates of last year’s OBS spring sale include Fashion Plate, purchased by trainer Simon Callaghan for $340,000. The Old Fashioned filly has established herself as a leading Kentucky Oaks contender with Grade 1 wins in the Las Virgenes Stakes and Santa Anita Oaks. She was pinhooked and consigned as a juvenile by de Meric Sales, agent.

The spring sale received a last-minute boost April 12 when Dance With Fate captured the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland. Dance With Fate, by Two Step Salsa, was bought by Joseph Ciaglia Jr. last year for $120,000 from the consignment of breeder Best A Luck Farm, and Ciaglia campaigns the colt in partnership. Dance With Fate has earned $680,050.

April 21-24, 10:30 a.m. Eastern
Where: OBS Sales Complex, 1701 SW 60th Ave., Ocala, Fla. 34474
Phone: (352) 237-2154
Catalog: 1,209 horses, up 1 percent from 1,195 last year
Recent history: The 2013 sale posted records across the board while selling 815 horses for $48,757,000 (up 46 percent), an average price of $59,825 (up 38 percent), and a median price of $35,000 (up 30 percent). Brushwood Stable bought a Bernardini colt out of Rooneys Princess, consigned by Hartley/De Renzo Thoroughbreds, agent, for $900,000 to top the sale. Named Prince Bernardini, the colt is unraced.
Internet: Live streaming at www.obssales.com