06/18/2004 12:00AM

Solid season at 2-year-old auctions

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The bulls and the bears maybe having it out on Wall Street, but there is no uncertainty in the Florida 2-year-olds in training market. The Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's two-day June auction completed the 2004 schedule of six sales, between February and June, with record-breaking numbers. The statistics for the June sale show that 314 horses sold for gross receipts of $7,394,600, an average price of $23,550. Both the gross and the average were records for the sale. Last year 249 lots sold for an average of $18,412.

"The numbers were all in the right direction," said Tom Ventura, general manager and sales director for Ocala Breeders' Sale. "Not only were the sales numbers up, but the buy-back rate dropped from one in three last year to one out of five this year."

Overall, the six 2 year-old sales - the five by the OBS, which include the Adena Springs Farm's sale of homebreds in March, and the Fasig-Tipton auction at Calder in February - listed 1,644 2-year-olds sold for gross receipts of $112,220,000, an average price of $68,260. The same group of six sales in 2003 sold 1,544 for a gross of $81,l61,500 and an average of a little more than $52,000.

Norman E. Casse, the OBS chairman, knows what good timing is all about. At the company's 2-year-old auction at Calder last February's, Hip No. 59 failed to bring her reserve and was bought back by Casse's Cardinal Hill Farm for $45,000.

"She wasn't doing good," Casse later remarked. "I knew she was a better filly than she showed. What she needed was more time to get her act together."

Casse gave her the time and entered her in the June sale. In the under-tack show, the filly, a daughter of Successful Appeal, showed she had plenty of gas in her tank as she breezed three furlongs in 33.60 seconds, equaling the fastest time.

Meanwhile, June sale's catalog Hip No. 421, named Urge to Splurge, had her family working for her, with siblings winning races since the February sale. More importantly, her sire, Successful Appeal, is off to tremendous start and is currently the nation's leading freshman stallion. Once again, timing was in Casse's favor: As the filly took her place in the auction ring, the fourth winner by Successful Appeal made a successful debut at Belmont. When the bidding had ended, Urge to Splurge had made the jump from a $45,000 February buy-back to a $200,000 June sale.

The buyer of the Casse-consigned filly was Carrol Castille of Carencro, La. Castille is a newcomer to the Ocala market, and in addition to the purchase of Urge to Splurge, he bought four others for a total $443,000 making him the June sales' second-leading buyer. Narvick International bought the most lots - 43 for $492,700.

Narvick International mostly represented the Korea Racing Association. This group, according to a spokesman, Myung Geol Leg, has bought upward of 140 2 year-olds in training this year at the Florida sales. After being quarantined for 30 days, they will be sent to Korea, then acclimatized and conditioned, and then resold at auction next March.

Niall Brennan Stable, as agent, was the leading consignor. Brennan's consignment contained the final group of 2 year-olds from the estate of John Franks. Brennan sold 63 for a gross of $1.46 million including the second highest price of the sale, $150,000 for Hip No. 468, a filly by Is It True from the Franks estate. She is the first foal of a winning Kissin Kris mare from the family of Yes It's True. F. Thomas Conway made the purchase.

* While no official announcement has been made, the word is that Successful Appeal will be relocated to stand in Kentucky next season. "I am not at liberty to discuss any details," said Randy Hartley of Hartley DeRenzo Thoroughbreds LLC, current home of Successful Appeal. "I'd sure hate to lose this horse, as he's doing so well here in Florida."