10/06/2017 12:40PM

October yearling sale latest change for OBS

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The past year has seen plenty of changes for Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co., from upgrades to the facility to movement on the calendar. The next change on the horizon for the auction company is set up to be a well-timed one.

OBS moved its annual yearling sale from August to October for the 2017 renewal. Previously one of the season’s first auctions, the OBS fall yearling sale is now in the heart of the yearling calendar, and comes up with a significant portion of the buying population still looking to fill orders after getting shut out at the Keeneland September yearling sale last month.

“Based on what’s been happening, the upper end of the market is certainly strong, and there’s quite a bit of depth to it,” said OBS president Tom Ventura. “That should continue, and I think we’ve got horses that fit that category.

“There’s been strength in the middle, so I’m hopeful for that. There’s demand for the horses. The only thing that’s still an uncertainty and hasn’t rebounded like the other parts of the market would be the lower end, and we’ll see what happens.”

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While the place on the calendar may be new, the format remains unchanged. The two-day auction will kick off Tuesday, Oct. 10 at noon Eastern with a select session, followed by a longer open session on Wednesday, Oct. 11, beginning at 9 a.m.

This year’s catalog comprises 646 entries, shrinking 38 percent from last year’s three-day auction, which cataloged 1,043 yearlings.

Ventura said the impetus for the auction’s new date came from the major upgrades being made to the sale pavilion, which led to the cancellation of last year’s OBS fall mixed sale in October due to construction.

Reviews were positive for the auction company’s winter mixed sale in January, which combined the two OBS mixed sales into one and put out a larger catalog. This gave OBS a prime open spot to move some pieces on the board.

“We’d been bouncing around different ideas,” Ventura said. “Finding a spot on the sales calendar these days is not an easy task, so we thought we had an opportunity to take space that we had for the mixed sale to do that, and it’s been very positively received.

“The thing that was difficult with the positioning of the August sale was you’re in the middle of the Saratoga and Del Mar meets, and the weather’s certainly not what it’s going to be in October.”

Francis Vanlangendonck, OBS vice president and owner of consignor Summerfield Sales, said the auction’s original August slot was born out of necessity at the time, but the changing ecosystem of the entire North American auction industry made the move not only possible, but beneficial.

“Back when OBS started selling in August, you could not sell a yearling after September,” he said. “The 2-year-old sales were a month and a half earlier. Now, they can buy them in October and get them ready for March, April, May, or June. It’s not an issue, and for nice horses, [buyers] don’t run out of money.”

Last year’s edition of the OBS yearling sale finished with significant declines.

A total of 517 horses sold for revenues of $8,640,100, marking a 29 percent decline from the 2015 renewal. The average sale price dipped 24 percent to $16,712, and the median fell 46 percent to $7,000.

Kevin Plank’s Sagamore Farm bought the sale-topper, a Flatter colt, for $210,000. Later named Youngin’ Fearless, the bay colt is out of the winning Dixie Union mare Madoffwiththecash, and is unraced through Oct. 6.

Other notable graduates from last year’s OBS yearling sale include Grade 2 winner Patrona Margarita, Grade 3 winner Run Away, and stakes winners Kelly’s Humor, Emily’s Lollipop, and Phantom Ro.