02/15/2008 1:00AM

Padua rates as top spender at record-setting Ocala sale


It's Sunday morning, Feb. 3, and Tom Ventura, general manager of the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company, is getting ready for the first of two under-tack shows leading to the Feb. 12 OBS sale of 2-year-olds in training. Ventura's overview that morning - before the workouts - was that this was an exceptionally good group of 2-year-olds in terms of conformation and athleticism. The sales horses lived up to their looks that morning as they posted solid works over the newly installed Safetrack synthetic surface. Nine days later they sold for record numbers.

The OBS data base shows that in 2007, 96 horses sold, which represented a 70.1 percent sell rate. This year, 89 horses sold for a sell percentage of 71.8, grossing $14,030,000 for a 9.3 percent gain over 2007. The average price rose 17.9 percent to $157,640, and the median price jumped 25 percent to $125,000.

Satish Sanan's Padua Stable was the leading buyer. He bought 10 2-year-olds for a gross of $2,380,000. Irish bloodstock agent John McCormack, acting for Middle Eastern buyers, purchased three horses for $1,075,000. Omar Travino, believed to be representing mostly foreign buyers, bought five for $1,035,000.

There were 27 horses who sold for $200,000 or more and eight for $400,000 or more. The sale-topper, Hip No. 1, from the Eisaman Equine, agent, consignment, is a daughter of Silver Deputy out of the stakes winner Daisy Dukes, by Ghazi. She is half-sister to the Japanese-raced stakes winner Surplus Singer. She worked an eighth-mile in 10 seconds for the sale and went for $520,000 to Buzz Chace, agent for a partnership including West Point Thoroughbreds and John Williams.

The highest-priced male sold was a chestnut colt from the first crop of Eclipse champion sprinter Speightstown out of the multiple stakes winner Unbridled Lady, by Unbridled. He was consigned by Parish Farms, agent. A Maryland-bred, the colt worked a quarter-mile in 21.60 seconds. John McCormack, agent, signed the ticket for $475,000.

Barry Eisaman's Eisaman Equine was the leading consignor, selling eight horses, including the sale-topper, for $1,810,000. Nick de Meric was next, selling 10 for $1,430,000.

Homebred consignors competed well with the pinhookers. There were 32 pinhooks cataloged for this sale who cost $100,000 or more. The Silver Deputy filly who topped the sale was a homebred. The five-horse consignment of Mike O'Farrell's Ocala Stud consisted of all homebreds, and they grossed $905,000.

Florida sires held their own. Ocala Stud's veteran stallion Montbrook proved popular with buyers, as four of his offspring averaged $208,750, or 20 times his advertised $10,000 fee. Ocala Stud's Trippi, who stands for $12,500, had two sell for an average of $132,500.

There's no doubt that Darley Thoroughbreds' co-sponsorship of the OBS championship races on Monday and its hosting of the pre-sale cocktail party Monday evening added cachet to this sale. Darley's blue and white colors were pervasive at the event.

Hubert Pilcher of Shade Tree dies

Hubert Pilcher, owner of Shade Tree Farm in Fairfield, Fla., died on Feb. 6 at age 71. Pilcher began his equine career in 1956 at Ocala Stud. He later served as farm manager for Meadowbrook Farm, Tally-Ho Farm, Waldemar Farm, and Gateway Farm before founding Shade Tree Farm.

He is survived by Docia Pilcher, his wife of 52 years, six children, and seven grandchildren.

Stronach show at awards dinner

The Florida Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association held its annual awards banquet last Sunday evening. It was, in the main, the Frank Stronach-Adena Springs night.

The Stronach-owned Ginger Punch, winner of the Eclipse Award for best older female of 2007, won the association's best older filly or mare and horse of the year honors. Stronach's Adena Springs won leading breeder of the year honors and leading owner of the year. Adena Springs won the broodmare of the year title for Nappelon, dam of Ginger Punch.

The Joe O'Farrell Award as the consignor of the best Florida-bred racehorse in 2007 also went to Adena Springs for Ginger Punch. Ocala Stud's Trippi won the leading stallion title, while D'wildcat, standing at Vinery, won first-crop stallion honors.