10/17/2003 12:00AM

Weanlings key increases at OBS fall mixed sale


The Ocala Breeders' Sales fall mixed sale, conducted Monday through Thursday, chalked up some strong numbers, especially for weanlings.

In last year's consignors preferred sessions, the OBS sold 186 weanlings for an average of $14,400 and a median of $9,600. This year, the average figure rose to $17,700 for 203 weanlings and the median climbed to $12,000.

Broodmare sales also enjoyed a modest rise, from an average of $13,800 and median of $9,500 last year to an average of $15,200 and a median of $10,700 this year.

"It was a tough market," said bloodstock agent Buzz Chace. "There were no bargains here."

Chace bought the sales-topper, Hip No. 534, for $145,000. She is a dark brown weanling filly by Tale of the Cat who is a half-brother to three winners, including stakes winner Musical Gambler. The filly, according to Chace, is a likely pinhook.

Seven of the top 11 sold were weanlings and four of them were by stallions with no crops of racing age.

"The weanlings were certainly the stars of this market," said Tom Ventura, the general manager and sales director of the OBS. "Pinhookers were very active. So many did not get what they wanted at this year's yearling sales, that they are buying weanlings in anticipation of a continuing tight market for racing prospects.

The open sessions of the sale, as one might expect, had much lower averages and median prices, but they also were up over last year's numbers. The combined average of $4,385 for all lots through the ring was up 6 percent this year, and the median price of $2,700 was up 8 percent. The buy-back rate tumbled from 31 percent in 2002 to 19 percent for this year's auction.

Best of the Rest nears stud duty

Bea Oxenberg's 12-time stakes winner Best of the Rest has targeted the November renewal of the Florida Millions at Calder Race Course and the Sunshine Millions at Gulfstream in January, and then it will be off to Farnsworth Farms for stud duty. Said Farnsworth Farms' Mike Sherman: "He's going to stand for $3,500 due when the foal stands and nurses. He will be nominated to the Florida Stallion Stakes and the Breeders' Cup."

Best of the Rest was foaled in 1995 and is one of two millionaire grays sired by the Bridlewood Farm stallion Skip Trial. The other is multiple Eclipse champion Skip Away. Best of the Rest is out of the Valid Appeal mare Obstinacy, who is three-quarter sister to the Grade 1 stakes winner and sire Proud Appeal.

"I have to have my stallion prospects show competitive speed," Sherman said. "Beyer [Speed Figures] are as good an indicator as any. Best of the Rest produced triple-digit Beyers in almost all of his stakes wins - more than 15 times lifetime. Another thing, he is going into stud sound. How many good horses these days are sound enough to actively race from 2 through 8? He'll be 9 when he goes to stud."

* Solomon Garazi has been a racetracker since his teenage days in pre-Castro Cuba. "I went to the races at Oriental Park with my buddies and sometimes we only had a dollar between us, but we usually came back with money in our pockets," said Garazi, who is announcing the closing of his Solred Farm in Ocala, Fla.

Garazi left Cuba when Castro came to power and for the next 10 years built a thriving shoe business and a trading company, and then moved into finance. Garazi 's business activities introduced him to stockbroker Fred Berens. They shared an interest in Thoroughbred racing and formed a partnership that is still strong today.

"Haven't got the time nor the energy to operate a farm, so Fred and I decided to sell the farm and we're moving the stallions Master Bill and Dawn Quixote to Rising Hill Farm and Palance will stand at Ups & Downs Farm," Garazi said.

The Solred exit from a farm operation does not carry over to the Garazi Berens racing stable.

"Oh, we'll always have a stable of horses," Garazi said, "and breed some, too. But I won't have the responsibility of operating a farm."