03/25/2005 12:00AM

Ocala March sale ends up meeting expectations


More than $30 million changed hands this past week in the Ocala 2-year-old sales venues. On Monday night at Frank Stronach's Adena Springs South, 46 of the farm's homebreds sold for $3,916,000. On Tuesday and Wednesday at the Ocala Breeders' Sales complex, another 323 selected 2-year-olds in training sold for $26,399,000. The average price for the 369 horses sold at both venues was $82,154.

The OBS March average price was $81,731. It was $73,610 in 2003 and a record $92,094 last year.

"We felt that we had a solid catalog," said Ocala general manager and sales director Tom Ventura. "But we also felt it would not be easy to improve on last year's numbers, which were substantially over the 2003 sale."

The 323 lots sold this March at Ocala was a big increase over the 245 sold a year ago. Total sales revenue, $26.4 million, was a record, up from $22.5 million a year ago. But the average was down 11.3 percent from last year, and the median also dipped, from $60,000 last year to $55,000 this year.

Barry and Shari Eisaman had a strong a sale, as their Eisaman Equine Sales, acting as agent, was the top consignor, selling 21 lots for a total $2,902,000. Eisaman Equine sold the sale-topper in the first session, Hip No. 264, a much-talked-about colt by Yes It's True, for $900,000.

In the second and final session, Eisaman sold another session-topper, a Salt Lake colt, for $320,000. The buyer was Dave Clark's Iron Horse Stable LLC .

The sale-topping Yes It's True colt went to Darley, following a three-way bidding battle among Darley and trainers Todd Pletcher and John Kimmel. No plans were released as to who will train the Yes It's True colt or where he will race. Bred in Ocala by Peggy and Dean Johnson's Johnson Hollow Farm, the sale-topper was bought privately as a yearling by Barry Eisaman.

Mark Casse's Moonshadow Farm, agent, was the sales second-leading consignor. Moonshadow sold 17 lots for $2,035,000. Casse, acting as agent for his father, Norman E. Casse, sold a filly by Cape Town for $320,000 to Iron Horse Stable LLC.

A total of seven 2-year-olds sold for $320,000 or more at Ocala. Four are colts, sired by Yes It's True, Silver Charm, Salt Lake, and Touch Gold. Two of the the three fillies that sold for $320,000 or more were sired by Siphon, the third by Cape Town.

Trainer Steve Klesaris, on behalf of Puglisi Stable, bought seven 2-year-olds for $1,355,000, topping the buyers' list. Next came newcomer Ahmed Zayat, who has hired Jimmy Toner to train his horses. Zayat bought 14 2-year-olds for $1,255,000. Toner said that he would be stabling most of these horses at Saratoga.

Gary Young, a bloodstock agent from California, spent the most of the week before the sales with his brother, the trainer Steve Young, observing and clocking sales candidates.

"I love this sale," Gary Young said. "It fits my comfort zone price-wise."

Among his purchases was a daughter of Siphon for $350,000.

The sale-leading sires by average price were Yes It's True (six for an average $252,000), Salt Lake (three for $191,667), Silver Charm (three for $163,333), Siphon (six for $140,000), and Two Punch (five for $136,400).

One common perception among both buyers and consignors is that the timing and the amenities of the OBS March sale might eventually make the OBS Calder Race Course sale in Miami obsolete.

"Things change; the middle market has been fine here as opposed to Miami," said J. Michael O'Farrell, whose father, Joe, was among the pioneers of the 2-year-old sales in south Florida. "There are horses here for everyone."

The Eisamans, former supporters of the OBS Calder 2-year-olds sales, decided last fall to sell their consignments at Ocala instead.

"It's a good middle market," Barry Eisaman said, "and there's less cost and stress selling in your own backyard."