02/17/2010 1:00AM

Strong high end couldn't stop OBS dip


Three horses brought $400,000 or more Tuesday at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's season-opening select juvenile sale, but the highly selective market also saw significant declines across the board.

The one-day auction in Ocala, Fla., had a smaller catalog than last year, and its gross fell 35 percent as 66 horses brought $6,414,000. Last year, 93 sold for $9,868,700. But the average price also lost ground, falling 8opercent from $106,115 to $97,182. The median fell 27 percent, from $90,000 to $66,000.

"There was a lot of pre-sale activity, and maybe they landed on some of the same horses," said the OBS sale director, Tom Ventura, pointing out that the buyer's list featured returning buyers like West Point Thoroughbreds as well as new players like Chuck and Maribeth Sandford. "The ones at the top of the sale fared well. It was just very selective."

Buy-backs rose slightly, from 39 percent in 2009 to 40 percent his year.

The top of the market this year outperformed last year's, when the sale-topper was a $340,000 Graeme Hall-Vines of Justice filly now named Belle of the Hall.

The day's highest price was the $475,000 that the Sandfords paid for a Tiznow colt out of Tale of the Cat's stakes-placed daughter Six Pack Sally. The Sandfords represented a partnership in buying the colt from agent Bo Hunt. The dark bay or brown colt previously sold for $55,000 at last year's Keeneland September auction. Carl Bowling's Straightaway Farm bought him there.

The other two horses to sell for $400,000 or more were Hip No. 106, a $425,000 Yes It's True colt out of Debit or Credit that trainer Amy Tarrant of Hardacre Farm bought from the W. D. North Thoroughbreds agency and Hip No. 84, a $400,000 Harlan's Holdiay-Burn Brightly filly that Let's Go Stables purchased from Ocala Stud.

The OBS February select sale is the first major 2-year-old auction of the season.