04/21/2005 11:00PM

Overflow of horses for OBS April sale


Starting Monday, the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company will host the biggest sale of 2-year-olds in training in its 30-year history. A record 1,372 have been cataloged. That's 162 more than the previous record in 2004, and it's going to take four days to sell them.

"We're in business to sell horses for our consignors," said Tom Ventura, OBS general manager and sales director, "and we have tried to accommodate everyone who applied to sell in April."

A physical proof of this accommodation is the construction of three temporary tent barns with stalls for roughly 170 horses that otherwise would have to be turned away. Ventura said there is no more stabling room available.

By and large the Florida 2-year-old market has not faltered since 2004. The OBS February sale at Calder Race Course was a record-breaker in average and median. Fasig-Tipton at Calder in March was strong, as was the OBS March sale.

The previous Florida sales were selected, but this April sale is an open sale. It remains to be seen whether the middle and lower-middle parts of the market will hold up as well.

Farnsworth Farms used to participate in most of the selected 2-year-old sales. Nowadays, Farnsworth targets April, with the June sale for those who did not make April.

"Back when my father started Farnsworth Farms," said farm owner Mike Sherman, "most of the consignors had homebreds or they took homebreds as agents to the sales. Now, it's a pinhookers' game, and Florida sires, the ones who stay here, have to compete with expensive yearling pinhooks, pinhooks who are by higher-priced Kentucky stallions. I thought April is the best time for us to sell. It gives us more time to prepare. Not that it means much these days, but when you buy a Florida-bred from a breeder, you do save the sales tax."

Catalog has 11 from Northern Afleet

The Ocala, Marion County, horse country is more than 400 square miles. Less than a mile from one another and on the same street are Don Dizney's Double Diamond Farm, Charlotte Weber's Live Oak Stud, and George Steinbrenner's Kinsman Farm. All three farms have connection to this year's Kentucky Derby.

Double Diamond Farm was the home of the stallion Northern Afleet before he was sold last year to Kentucky stallion interests. The sire of Arkansas Derby winner Afleet Alex, Northern Afleet was popular in Florida and this popularity is reflected at the OBS spring sale, where 11 of his get have been cataloged. Three fillies and two colts sell in the first two sessions, with five colts and a filly in the final sessions.

Steinbrenner does not stand stallions at his Kinsman Farm. He will tell you, if you ask, that it's too much of a hassle and he would rather let someone else do it. So, his sire Concerto stands at Ocala Stud Farm. There are 15 of his get in the OBS sale, including a full brother to the Derby favorite Bellamy Road.

Charlotte Weber has her homebred High Fly in the Derby. For a time, however, Live Oak Stud was the home of Marco Bay, sire of Derby hopeful Buzzards Bay. Marco Bay gets around. As reported last week, he is back in Florida from a brief stint in Pennsylvania and currently holds court at Pete Maloy's Hidden Hills Farm. There are two get of Marco Bay cataloged. Hip No. 938 is a colt out of Declared Asset, by Ziad. Hip No. 1,337 is a bay full sister to Buzzards Bay.

Prime Timber leads sale with 31 head

Prime Timber, who stands at Sez Who Thoroughbreds in New York, is the stallion leader for OBS April. Prime Timber has 31 cataloged to sell - all New York-breds. Farnsworth Farms has the runner-up stallion in Double Honor, currently the leading Florida stallion. There are 26 2-year-olds by Double Honor cataloged and all are Florida-breds.

Among the freshman sires, those that sold well in the selected 2-year-old sales earlier this year include the Padua Stables duo of Delaware Township and Exchange Rate. There are 12 cataloged in this week's sale by Delaware Township, the Grade 1 stakes winner of slightly less than $1 million, and nine by Exchange Rate, a Grade 2 stakes winner. Flame Thrower, a Grade 2 stakes winner who stands at CloverLeaf Farm II, has nine 2-year-olds from his first crop.

Snuck In, also at CloverLeaf Farm II, won the Rebel Stakes and placed second in the Arkansas Derby, showing more distance capacity than most sons of Montbrook. He is represented with 19 from his first crop. Songandaprayer, a Grade 1 stakes winner who began his stud career at Marablue Farm and now holds court at Hartley-DeRenzo Walmac South, has seven cataloged.

Successful Appeal and Yes It's True, both national freshman sire leaders in 2004 and both of whom have relocated to Kentucky, have seven apiece in the sale and all are Florida-breds.

* Charlotte Weber has made management changes at her Live Oak Stud. Mike Carfine has been tentatively appointed the general manager of the 4,500-acre nursery and training complex, replacing Eric Hammelback, who had served in that capacity for the past two years.