10/18/2001 11:00PM

Plenty of elbow room for bidders at recent OBS mixed sales


During the first weekend of October, designated as Ocala Week by those in the Florida Thoroughbred industry, there was a feeling that something was missing in Ocala. That missing something turned out to be people. There should have been more people at the social functions, the meetings, and at the OBS fall mixed sales, Oct. 8-11.

Last year at these same sales 461 buyers signed a sales ticket. Of those 317 were Floridians. Among the rest were 20 from Kentucky and 15 from Texas. This year 367 signed sales slips, and of these 257 were from Florida. Kentucky buyers dropped to 13 and Texas to 12. The 20 percent drop in buyers was matched by a 20 percent decline in sale average at the two open sessions. The consignors preferred sessions, without the Mockingbird Farm and Hooper Farm dispersals of last year, figured to be down, and they were, by roughly a third.

Ocala Stud on a roll

Not all industry signs are negative, however, and there is a healthy degree of optimism around. Karl Koontz of Ocala Stud says that two of its residents - Montbrook and the newcomer Trippi - are well on their way to having a full book for 2002. Montbrook was bred to 87 mares this year. (Ocala Stud's leader in that department was Slow Gin Fizz, who was bred to 113 mares.)

Ocala Stud stallions have been on a streak lately. Montbrook has had several recent stakes winners, including Grade 1 Super Derby winner Outofthebox. Last weekend, Booklet and Rulebook, both by the Ocala Stud stallion Notebook, finished first and second in the $400,000 In Reality division of the Florida Stallion Stakes series at Calder Race Course. Earlier on that card, two other Notebook offspring won stakes: Fappie's Notebook the $200,000 Smile Sprint Handicap and Coolbythepool the $100,000 Shocker T. Handicap.

Koontz said that because Notebook had a bout with laminitis, seasons to him are limited to the 40 syndicate members.

Montbrook, an 11-year-old by Buckaroo, is the second-ranked stallion in Florida, with $2.7 million in progeny earnings. Notebook, a 16-year-old by Well Decorated, is only a few thousand behind Montbrook in progeny earnings this year. The Florida leader is Irish Acres Farm's Tour d'Or, by Medaille d'Ore, with $3.2 million. Express Tour is his leading money earner.

Across town at Padua Stable, Nadia Sanan said she has been "overwhelmed" by the response to the farm's new stallion Exchange Rate (by Danzig). "We want as good a book as we can get, but we don't want to overdo it," she said. "So we are going to screen the applications and do what's in the best interest of the stallion."

Another Padua stallion, Yes It's True, by Is It True, was bred to more than 100 mares last season, Sanan said.

"And we did well with Dance Master [Gone West] considering he arrived late," she added. "The farm has been approached to stand new stallions, but we are getting our feet wet in this business and we don't want to rush into things until we find what works best for us in this market."