06/16/2005 11:00PM

Ocala sale brings end to year's in-training auctions


The Ocala Breeders' Sale Company's June auction of 2-year-olds in training wraps up the Florida in-training auctions for 2005. The two-day sale begins on Tuesday with a starting time of 10:30 a.m.

There were five 2-year-olds in-training sales, the first in February at Calder Race Course, and Tom Ventura, the general manager and director of sales for OBS, participated in four of them.

"I would have to say that the sales were basically steady this year," said Ventura. Last January, Ventura had forecast the 2005 sales season to be a good one but not, perhaps, as good as 2004.

"The industry was coming off several years of bull markets, and you have to wonder when or if the tempo might slow down," Ventura said.

The industry statistics that Ventura cited indicate that there were some soft spots, but when the final numbers are tallied after this week's auction, the total amount invested in the 2005 Florida 2-year-old market will probably come in at $121 million, for an increase of approximately 9 percent over the gross sales of 2004.

Ventura hopes that last week's stakes results at Belmont Park, topped by the victory of Afleet Alex in the Belmont Stakes, will give further impetus to this week's 2-year-old auction.

"OBS sales 2-year-old graduates ran one-two in the Fashion Stakes and another won the Flash Stakes, a Grade 3. Afleet Alex is a 2-year-old sales graduate, and we have nine 2-year-olds by his sire, Northern Afleet, cataloged. We have also cataloged six by Lost Soldier, sire of the unbeaten Lost in the Fog."

Afleet Alex's Belmont win and the two juvenile stakes were not the only stakes laurels earned by Florida-breds over the four-day Belmont weekend. In all, six stakes were won by Florida-breds, including the Meadow Brook Hurdle Stakes, a Grade 2 won by Paradise's Boss.

Bred by Juan Escobar, son-in-law of Shangri La Farm owners Eduardo and Catherine Azpurua, Paradise's Boss is the get of That's Our Buck, who last stood at Tuxedo Farm in Ocala before being sold in 2004 to Texas interests.

"It did not surprise me," said Linda Paradise of Tuxedo Farm, "that That's Our Buck sires successful jumpers. He was a versatile racehorse himself, and his get aren't limited by distance or footing."

Florida's freshmen stallions are off to a good start. Six of them have had their first winners. Leading the list is Trippi, standing at Ocala Stud. An 8-year-old son of End Sweep, he has a crop of 41. Five of these have started and three have won. Songandaprayer, by Unbridled Song, standing at Hartley-DeRenzo/Walmac South, has a freshman crop of 32, of whom five have started and two have won. B L's Appeal has two winners out of six starters from a crop of 22. B L's Appeal, by Valid Appeal, stands at L.W. Randolph Thoroughbred.

Other Florida sires who have had their first winners are Put It Back (Honour and Glory), standing at Bridlewood Farm, with one winner from two starters, and Padua Stable's duo of Delaware Township and Exchange Rate. Delaware Township (Notebook) has two starters, while Exchange Rate (Danzig) has an Italian race-winner from a total of three runners here and abroad.

All but one of the new sires have offspring selling in the OBS June sale. Delaware Township and Trippi each have six cataloged, Exchange Rate and Songandaprayer have four each, and Put It Back has two.

Approaching the statistical halfway mark of 2005, five sires are in a position to be leading Florida sire. They are Montbrook, Mecke, and Concerto, all at Ocala Stud, and Double Honor and Line in the Sand, at Farnsworth Farms Lion in the Sand has been sold to investors in Thailand and will stand alongside a former Florida resident, Hazaam.

There are three sires in a tight race for leading second-crop sire. Two sons of the late Saint Ballado - Straight Man (at Signature Stallions and Sweetsouthernsaint (at Ocala Stud) - are in a virtual tie with Running Stag (by Cozzene) at Adena Springs Farm.