04/18/2013 5:13PM

OBS spring sale: Four-day juvenile auction appeals to broader market


The Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co.’s spring 2-year-old sale, set for Monday through Thursday in Ocala, Fla., is the broader juvenile market’s first major test this season. The OBS auction follows the early boutique sales, where small select catalogs and an “all or nothing” market produced some hefty gains – but also some high buyback rates.

The OBS sale offers a substantially larger catalog than the select sales, with 1,195 horses (compared with 130 to 350 for recent boutique auctions), and that total is only one horse fewer than in last year’s catalog. Director of Sales Tod Wojciechowski said that larger supply should be a draw for buyers.

“The buyers we’ve visited with over the season, they’re making April kind of their go-to sale,” Wojciechowski said. “I think it’s the quantity and quality of horses available. Buyers are confident that there’s going to be a horse in their price range, no matter what their price range is. They’re going to have a selection of them to choose from, and they won’t have buyers concentrating on only a couple of horses. There’s such a quantity of horses that the buyers can spread out ... If a buyer can only make one sale, April’s the one he’s going to go to.”

Boutique auctions this year have seen exactly that kind of concentration, and that has contributed to some whiz-bang prices for the few horses who pass all of a buyer’s stringent tests; those who don’t often end up withdrawn or on the buyback list. But, propelled by the upper-market surge, this year’s select sales have posted higher averages and medians from coast to coast, including OBS’s own March select auction.

That two-day sale, the largest of the select auctions, set records for both average ($156,572) and median ($125,000) and sold the highest-priced juvenile so far this year, a $1.8 million Smart Strike-Mini Sermon colt whom Stonestreet Stables bought from the King’s Equine agency. Most recently, Keeneland’s single-session April sale saw its average ($197,288) rise 19 percent and its median ($150,000) jump 25 percent.

“Buyers probably recognize that, given the constriction in the foal crops, the number of quality horses offered at market probably is diminished, and that probably forces a concentration on those top horses,” Wojciechowski said.

That could help the April sale, he said, as buyers who were shut out at earlier auctions continue looking for horses. “And, second, our consignors are more and more comfortable with bringing what may have been a March or other select-sale horse that, for whatever reason, got the sniffles and needed to be pushed back,” Wojciechowski added. “They have all the confidence in the world bringing those horses to April now.”

Last year’s OBS April auction was a record-setter itself, establishing records for both average ($43,458, up 39 percent) and median ($27,000, up 35 percent). From a 1,196-horse catalog, last year’s auction sold 771 juveniles for a record $33,506,400, a 29 percent increase even though the number of horses sold fell by 7 percent. Notably, the sale’s buyback rate fell from 23 percent to a strikingly low 18 percent.

“By the time we get to April, consignors are running out of other options, and I think they’re realistic about what they need to get,” Wojciechowski said.

Last year’s $650,000 sale topper hasn’t hurt the sale’s reputation either. The First Samurai-Refugee filly whom agent Eddie Woods sold is now dual Grade 1 winner Executiveprivilege, raced by Karl Watson, Mike Pegram, and Paul Weitman. She’s not the only big name to emerge from the thick OBS April catalog either, Wojciechowski points out. Reigning sprint champion Trinniberg cost a mere $21,000, and 2012 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner I’ll Have Another sold for just $35,000 at the sale two years ago.

Those flashy results have made for good advertising, and with I’ll Have Another now standing at stud in Japan, OBS is expecting a couple of Japanese groups for the April sale, Wojciechowski said. Also likely to attend and bid: Korean racing interests. Korean representatives are regular bidders at this sale, but some recent developments might spur them on this spring.

Last December, Gamdonguibada became the first filly in 12 years to win Seoul’s Grand Prix Stakes. A $31,000 OBS April grad, she’s now 2 for 2 this year with her latest win March 29. And this year, the Koreans will have more money to spend for colts, courtesy of a change in Korean regulations designed to foster the domestic bloodstock industry.

“They had been capped at $20,000 on colts, and this year, that is now $30,000,” Wojciechowski said. “You not only have the government-sponsored groups that come, but you also have private individuals that do make it over as well.”

The OBS April sale sessions begin daily at 10:30 a.m. Four under-tack previews were scheduled for last week. The auction will stream live at www.obssales.com.

OBS April sale of 2-year-olds in training

When: April 22-25, 2013

Where: OBS Sales Complex, 1701 SW 60th Ave., Ocala, Fla. 34474

Phone: (352) 237-2154

Catalog: 1,195 horses, down 0.1 percent from 1,196 last year

Recent history: The 2012 sale posted records across the board while selling 771 horses for $33,506,400, an average price of $43,458, and a median price of $27,000. Gross receipts increased 29 percent, average rose 38.8 percent, and median was up 35 percent. The Three Amigos bought a First Samurai filly out of Refugee, consigned by Eddie Woods, agent, for $650,000 to top the sale. Named Executiveprivilege, the filly won five of seven starts last year, including two Grade 1 races, and earned nearly $1 million.

Internet: Live streaming at www.obssales.com


Results from prior OBS April sales

Year Cataloged Sold Total sales Average
2012 1,196 771 $33,506,400 $43,458
2011 1,377 830 $25,980,200 $31,301
2010 1,221 736 $20,547,400 $27,918
2009 1,389 801 $19,916,300 $24,864
2008 1,381 772 $22,578,000 $29,246
2007 1,399 786 $22,698,400 $28,878
2006 1,246 756 $24,565,500 $32,494
2005 1,372 775 $22,017,800 $28,410
2004 1,210 774 $23,183,000 $29,952
2003 1,236 704 $14,923,000 $21,197