09/04/2008 11:00PM

Sale festivities have new feel in modern era


Ocala Week has changed dramatically over the years. A generation past, affluent farm owners such as Dan Lasater, John Hartigan, Bob Candow, and others like them held open-house parties with imported caterers and entertainment. New stallions were shown and established stallions had seasons booked. Owners by the many hundreds came to Ocala to look at their weanlings, do business for the coming breeding season, and enjoy the festivities.

Ocala Week is now hosted by the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders' and Owners' Association, and the short week will begin this year on Wednesday, Oct. 1, and end on Sunday evening, Oct. 5, with an invitation-only cocktail party. The three-day Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's fall mixed sale gets under way the next morning.

The breeders and owners association's Betsy Whiteaker is the coordinator for many of the activities taking place during the five-day period. The first of these happenings is the equine art exhibit and reception at the organization's headquarters on Oct. 1. The reception - no reservation is needed - will run from 2:30 to 6:30 p.m. Equine artists will be on hand to meet the public at 4:30 p.m.

The Jockey Club interactive seminar, scheduled for Oct. 2, will have the same format as last year, said Whiteaker. The seminar will take place at the Ocala Hilton. Registration should be complete by 11:30 a.m. Then comes lunch, followed by a presentation of the Internet services provided by the Jockey Club. Immediately following this seminar is another seminar dealing with farm health issues.

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association, said Whiteaker, "is considering a presentation following the Jockey Club's seminar. There will be an announcement about this if and when."

Whiteaker is also the coordinator for the annual Florida Thoroughbred Charities' Golf Classic on Friday, Oct. 3. There are two shotgun starts: 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. Those who have not previously signed up may register at Golden Hills Golf and Turf Club an hour before the first tee-off. The format, according to Whiteaker, is a four-person scramble, and if potential participants are lacking partners, Whiteaker will endeavor to make up a team. The fee is $125 per person, $450 for a team of four. This includes food and beverages. Additional information is available from Whiteaker at (352) 629-2160.

Golden Hill Golf and Turf Club will also be the site of the annual breeders and owners membership meeting. New directors will be inducted, the state of the industry will be discussed, and various reports given to the membership. A continental breakfast will be served. Starting time will be 10 a.m. on Oct. 4.

Sunday evening, Oct. 5, is the annual breeders and owners cocktail party. The party is by invitation only, and cocktail attire is de rigueur. It will be held this year, as last, at Golden Ocala Golf and Equestrian Club, located across the highway from Golden Hills Golf and Turf.

Getting down to business

The Ocala Breeders' Sales Company will hosts its annual fall mixed sale from Monday, Oct. 6, through Wednesday, Oct. 8. The consignors' preferred session begins the auction. The final two sessions are designated as open. All the sessions will start at 10:30 a.m.

This year's fall mixed sale has 1,000 cataloged, 348 in the consignors' preferred session and 652 in the open sessions. Last year, 1,505 were cataloged.

* For years the Florida Thoroughbred Farm Managers Inc. held its fundraising event, stallion showcase, and cocktail party during Ocala Week. These activities have been rescheduled for Saturday, Nov. 29.