01/18/2002 12:00AM

Winter mixed sale exceeds expectations


The Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's fall mixed sale took place only a few weeks after the fateful events of Sept. 11. Business was not good when compared with recent chapters of the October auction.

"One could not be sure," said OBS general manager Tom Ventura, "if the decline was triggered by 9-11 or our catalog was less attractive than the previous ones in that we had no dispersals or other kinds of magnets to bring in the buyers. Perhaps it was a combination of both."

Confidence was guarded but optimistic concerning the winter mixed sale.

"We had lesser numbers and more quality than we cataloged last year," said Ventura. "The big question, especially since the Keeneland mixed sale was off, was the economy. Would the general slump in the economy impact our sales? If so, how much?"

This year's OBS winter mixed sale cataloged 720 compared with last year's 1,166. The first of the two sessions was the consignors' preferred. The average for the lots sold in this session dipped by 5 percent - $12,631 to $11,961. The second day, the open session, the average for all sales horses rose 23 percent to $5,254 and the median went up a similar amount.

These numbers, however, do not tell the whole story. In the consignors' preferred session the buy-back rate plummeted by half from last year's rate to 17 percent. In the open session the buy-back rate slid almost 25 percent from last year. From the beginning it was evident that those buyers with cash to spare were looking for short-term investments. The average for yearlings rose by 10 percent in the preferred session and by 67 percent in the open session.

The sales topper at $160,000 was for a yearling son of Maria's Mon. Cataloged number 155, the dark bay colt was born last Feb. 14. He is the third foal of a winning and producing daughter of Farma Way who is supported by a black type family. Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey, the well-known Kentuckians, were the buyers. Owner Bob Seeger bought the mare at the 2000 Keeneland November sales in foal to Maria's Mon for $16,000.

The late Valid Appeal, who recently died at 30 from complications of old age, is acknowledged as a premier broodmare sire. So it was no surprise that a daughter, Last Appeal, from Valid Appeal's last crop, brought the highest price among the broodmares. L.W. Randolph Thoroughbreds, Inc. was agent for Monarch Stable's Frank Bertolino in the sale of the filly for $82,000. Signing the tab was Buzz Chace for Bill Poston of Marietta, Ga. Last Appeal was sold as a broodmare prospect following a light campaign on the racetrack where she earned $50,060.

Beth Bayer, one of the more active agents at this sale, summed up the feelings of her colleagues: "I think people were more comfortable at this sale. The feeling is that the economy is on the way back. The number of people attending this sale was bigger than anyone would have thought going in."

o The Florida Thoroughbred Charities held its memorabilia and sports auction the night before the sale at Steinbrenner's Ramada Inn Convention Center. The function raised nearly $65,000, and the Monday auction of non-refundable stallion seasons brought in another $152,350.