10/09/2003 11:00PM

Strong market bodes well for OBS mixed sale


Tom Ventura, general manager of the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company, is a conservative forecaster when it comes to predicting sales trends. But he has high hopes for the OBS fall mixed sale, which begins Monday.

"I think this sale is going to be a good sale, as good as last year and conceivably better," he said.

When asked why the optimism, Ventura said: "This year's yearling market was strong, as strong as it has been in years. I think the weanling market will be strong as well. The pin-hookers will, I believe, be even more active than they were last year. Add the new Florida stallions to the mix, and we have all the ingredients in place for a solid sale."

The OBS has cataloged 1,237 for the four days of the sale, the first two of which are preferred sessions. Approximately a third of the horses cataloged to the sale are weanlings. Sez Who Thoroughbreds is the leading individual consignor. An Ocala farm with a New York annex, Sez Who Thoroughbreds is substantially reducing its Thoroughbred holdings and will bring about 100 mares to market.

Sez Who Thoroughbreds is also the residence of Outofthebox, a Grade 1 stakes winner and the leading money-earning offspring of Florida's leading sire, Montbrook. There are 27 broodmares in the sale in foal to Outofthebox.

First-crop sires represented

Family Calling, who stands at Hidden Point Farm, is Florida's leading first-crop sire. A son of Mr. Prospector, Family Calling has a crop of 75, 34 of them have started and 14 have won.

There are seven mares in foal to Family Calling in the OBS sale. He has eight weanlings in the sale.

In second place on the Florida roster of new sires is Franks Farms' Precosity. Precosity, a son of Aferd who earned $1.8 million, belied his name as a racehorse: he did not win his first stakes until he was 4. His get, however, appear to have inherited some lick from his dam's side of the pedigree, which includes Mr. Prospector and the French champion 2-year-old Super Concorde. There are 29 registered foals from Precosity's first crop, 15 have raced, and seven have won.

There are three mares in foal to Precocity in the OBS sale. There is one weanling filly by Precosity cataloged to the sale.

Hamilton County votes yes

The Florida Supreme Court recently gave the green light for a constitutional amendment to be on the ballot in November 2004, which could lead to slots at parimutuel facilities in Dade and Broward counties. The voters of Hamilton County, all 3,205 of them, voted on Tuesday by an almost 2 to 1 margin to authorize a racetrack and a jai-alai fronton.

Hamilton County is located north of Ocala on the Florida-Georgia border. It is sparsely populated county anchored by the city of Jasper, with Valdosta, Ga., nearby. The Hamilton County Ministerial Alliance campaigned against the referendum, but voters were sold on anticipated employment opportunities and potential revenue stemming from parimutuel activities.

Glenn Richards of Richmond Entertainment, which sponsored the referendum, said that parimutuels will be operative in Hamilton County within 18 months. Richards did not say if he would go to the Florida Legislature and request a Thoroughbred permit or apply under current law to the Department of Pari-Mutuel Wagering for a Quarter Horse permit.

Changes at Irish Acres

Noel and Bobby Hickey's Irish Acres Farm is being subdivided with approximately half of the property earmarked for residential mini-farms. A private trust bought 153 of the 320 acres and it must undergo a land use mediation process with Marion County commissioners. In 2002 a request to change the zoning of Irish Acres Farm in order to build a Wal-Mart distribution center failed commission approval.

The Hickeys, according to a statement made by Steve Rudnianyn in the Ocala Star Banner, plan to continue in horse racing but at a different location and on a smaller scale. Rudnianyn heads the real estate trust that bought the 153 acres for a reported $1.54 million.