04/22/2004 11:00PM

Ocala another bullish sale

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The Ocala Breeders' Sales Company in Florida ended its April 2-year-old auction Thursday evening with a sale-record top price and record gains that bolstered the season's bull market for juveniles.

At its next-to-last session Wednesday, the four-day auction sold a $975,000 Distorted Humor-Zuppardo Ardo colt to John Ferguson, agent for Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum. That broke the old record of $550,000, set in 1998 and equaled in 2001.

The record and a spate of lots above $500,000 helped push the OBS April auction to enormous gains. Gross receipts rose 55 percent to a record $23,183,000 for 774 horses, up dramatically from last year's total of $14,923,000 for 704 juveniles. The average also was a sale-record $29,952, a 41 percent jump from last season's $21,197. The $18,000 median was up 39 percent from last year's $13,000. Adding to the good news was a substantially lower buy-back rate of 20 percent, down from 28 percent in 2003.

The sale-topping Distorted Humor colt was the latest in a string of record-breakers this season.

In February, the OBS Calder sale also enjoyed a sale-record top price: $1.6 million for a Wild Rush colt. At the end of the month, the Fasig-Tipton Calder auction twice broke the previous world record for a juvenile of $2.7 million, first with a $3.1 million Stephen Got Even colt and then with a $4.5 million Fusaichi Pegasus colt - the latter setting the current world mark. In March, the Barretts juvenile sale followed suit, producing a world-record $2 million Awesome Again filly that Maktoum bought. And earlier this month, Keeneland sold a $3.3 million Pulpit colt for a new sale record.