04/25/2002 11:00PM

Ocala sale average dips

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Topped by a $280,000 Grand Slam colt that West Point Thoroughbreds bought at the closing session, the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's spring 2-year-old auction ended Thursday with declines in gross revenue and average price.

From April 22 to April 25, the auction sold 673 lots for total receipts of $15,332,100, a decline of 15 percent from last year's gross, when 685 horses brought $18,058,600. The average price fell 14 percent, from $26,363 last year to $22,782. The 2002 median was identical to last year's at $15,000. But the buy-back rate - the percentage of horses who failed to reach their reserve prices in the auction ring - improved this year, finishing at 28 percent, compared with last year's 33 percent.

The sale-topping colt is out of the stakes-placed Strawberry Road mare Stephanie's Road and went through the auction ring as part of the M & H Training and Sales agency's consignment. Bloodstock agent Buzz Chace signed the sale ticket on behalf of West Point Thoroughbreds.

The sale-topper had shared the fastest quarter-mile time of 21.20 during under-tack shows for the auction.

Though he did not buy the auction's top lot, Nelson Bunker Hunt was the sale's leading buyer by total expenditure. Hunt purchased 29 horses for $682,700.