10/02/2008 11:00PM

Rough sales season with better times ahead

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Summerfield Sales is a bloodstock sales company owned and operated by the Ocala-based husband and wife team of Francis and Barbara Vanlangendonck. Their sales repertoire includes everything but 2-year-olds in training. Summerfield Sales is the largest consignor to Monday’s Ocala Breeders’ Sales fall mixed sale. Of the 1,000 lots cataloged for this sale, the Vanlangendoncks will try to sell 120 horses or 12 percent of the total.

Summerfield Sales is not limited to Florida’s borders. The company sells bloodstock, foals, and yearlings in Kentucky, Maryland, and, from time to time, in other venues. Getting around, as the Vanlangendoncks do, gives them exposure to regional and national trends. They have just returned from the Maryland sales, where the sales results were not pretty, and recently Francis Vanlangendonck agreed to answer a few questions about the sales situation around the country and locally.

What’s your take on the economic health of the Thoroughbred industry? Not just in Florida, but everywhere?

It’s tough now, very tough, but I am a long-range optimist. Down the road everything is going to be fine. There are business cycles in the horse business just as any other business. When those down cycles come, you have to adjust to what the market dictates. The good horses always have a good market. That is horses with pedigree and conformation. The lesser horses in times like these have to have their market value adjusted to reflect the times.

What’s your take on Florida’s stallion situation, when so many young stallions start in Florida and end in Kentucky?

When I came to Florida in the late 1970s, it was more or less the same story. I can remember asking a local stallion manager about the stallions he was standing. His reply was “We’re real young this year.” By that he meant that he was standing young stallions that were just getting started. Florida has had a revolving door for stallions. They come, they do well, they’re sold or relocate to Kentucky. That’s been the trend and I don’t sense anything happening to change this trend.

How does this revolving door scenario impact you as a consignor when you don’t have the get and produce of upscale stallions and breeding stock to sell?

The get of young stallions with a good pedigree, conformation, and/or racing record have historically done well in the Florida market. People are willing to take a chance with young stallions and hope the stallion lives up to expectations.

The OBS fall mixed sale is set to begin Monday. What do your vibes tell you about what the market is going to do?

Given the present economic uncertainties, this sale could be on the difficult side. It won’t take long to find out how the market is playing and then it’s up to the agents to talk to their consignors and make the adjustments that need to be made. I repeat that I am a long-range optimist. But, the short term could be tough.

Do you have a bellwether horse among the 120 cataloged that will sort of indicate how the market is playing?

I have a Lion Heart weanling filly [Hip No. 61]. She will be my barometer of how the sale is going. She is a lovely filly with a strong pedigree. This kind of horse usually sells very well . The ones that are worrisome are the average and below average types of horses. I repeat: I think the market will hold up for young mares with good conformation and decent pedigrees. I am concerned about the market for marginal breeding stock and weanlings.