06/14/2007 11:00PM

Shifting OBS sales to Ocala a good move


This has been a season of transition for the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. The annual off-campus auction formerly held at Calder Race Course each February was moved to Ocala to avoid the logistical problems created by nearby Dolphin Stadium, which hosted the 2007 Super Bowl.

There was some trepidation that the sale might lose some of its cachet in the transition, but that didn't happen. In fact, the results were positive, so much so that OBS has moved Florida's fifth and final 2007 auction of 2-year-olds in training on Tuesday and Wednesday to its Ocala venue.

OBS has cataloged 635 juveniles and 18 older horses in training for this week's two-day sale.

Tom Ventura, the OBS sales director and general manager, said that he was initially somewhat confident that moving the sale from Calder to Ocala would not produce negative results.

"Back in February," said Ventura, "I felt pretty optimistic that the overall 2007 2-year-olds in training sales would be good, but, perhaps, not quite as strong as the record sales year of 2006."

Ventura pointed out that supply and demand were probably just right in 2006, whereas there was likely more supply than demand this year.

"We had more entries for our 2007 sales than we did for 2006," he said.

Ventura was particularly pleased with the tally for the February sale. The number sold, 96, was about the same as 2006 at Calder, when 93 were sold. The average dipped slightly to $133,656 in 2007, compared with $139,430 last year, for a 4.1opercent decline.

"I think moving the OBS racing program from March to complement the one-day sale in February proved to be better than squeezing it between the six days of under-tack shows and three days of March sales," Ventura said.

He added that he feels the June sale has come of age, citing an improvement in the quality of the June sale pedigrees and horses. Because the sale has improved in overall quality, buyers are taking notice.

"A consignor," said Ventura, "who has a selected-sale-caliber 2 year-old that, for whatever reasons, missed the earlier sales, can risk putting that horse in the June sale because the consignor can get that horse sold."

Ventura mentioned the millionaire Buzzards Bay and the filly Miss Macy Sue, both of whom are June sale graduates who have won graded stakes recently.

There should be no shortage of June sale buyers up and down the line, according to Ventura, including representatives of the Korean Racing Association who will be returning for 2-year-olds. The KRA team arrived well in advance of the sale, and has been watching the sales horses go through their training routines. The KRA bought 42 2-year-olds at the April sale.

Puerto Rican horsemen have also given notice they will be back; they bought 115 horses at the April auction.

Six Florida stallions whose first crops are at the races this year and who have sired winners will have one or more 2-year-olds in the OBS June sale.

Full Mandate and Trust N Luck have both sired stakes winners. The other four are Macho Uno, Milwaukee Brew, Sligo Bay, and Smooth Jazz.

Florida's leading sire, Trippi, has 13 cataloged. Exchange Rate, the leading juvenile sire in Florida and the U.S., has three cataloged.