Diverse buyers bench helps breeze-up sale end on a high
Firday's session topped by a Creative Cause filly at $850,000
After scoring a big pinhook profit on a Creative Cause filly that sold for $850,000 during Friday's final session of the Ocala Breeders' Sales spring sale of two-year-olds in training, Billy Koch became emotional discussing the effort required to get a horse to that point.
The filly, bred in Kentucky by Brereton and Bret Jones, was acquired in the name of Koch's Solana Beach Sales partnership entity for $100,000 from the Jones/Airdrie Stud consignment to the Keeneland September yearling sale. She was consigned to OBS by Tom McCrocklin, agent.
"It just means so much to us for buyers to respect the job Tom does," said Koch, who is also founder and a managing partner in Little Red Feather Racing, as he choked back tears. "It's tough sometimes when you're selling on the last day. The whole team works so hard."
Trainer Linda Rice signed the ticket for the filly, who breezed a quarter-mile in :21 during the under tack show workouts, on behalf of Kaitar Racing.
"She's a big scopey filly, with size and a good shoulder," Rice said of her latest sale acquisition. "She worked in :21 flat, she galloped out terrific, she looks like a two-turn filly with speed, and had great presentation at the barn."
"She looked like a queen. She didn't turn a hair the entire sale," the California-based Koch said. "She's an absolutely stunning filly and the horsemen who came by to see her couldn't fault her. That speaks volumes of Tom's ability to pick horses as yearlings and have the vision to see what they might look like six months later."
Koch said the group had no expectations of how much the filly might bring.
"We knew we had a really nice horse, but you can never get too excited and we kind of stay level-headed," Koch said. "It was scary. My heart was pounding and I shed some tears."
McCrocklin said the filly had "a beautiful breeze and good vet work. She was a beautiful yearling and easy to break. She did it all herself. My job was just to not screw it up. A lot of good buyers liked her and they just got in there and competed."
Sired by Airdrie's Creative Cause, who stands for $15,000 and is represented by two stakes winners this year, the filly is out of the stakes-winning El Prado mare Santina Dond, and from the female family of grade 1 winner Well Armed and grade 2 winner Zivo
Diverse buying bench helps sale post gains
Spurred by a diverse group of international and domestic buyers active at all levels of the market, the Ocala Breeders’ Sales spring sale of two-year-olds in training came to an end with records set in key statistical categories.
From 1,208 horses cataloged, there were 391 head withdrawn. OBS reported 678 horses grossed a sale record $61,185,900, compared with 659 juveniles bringing $52,010,500 a year ago. The sale surpassed the previous mark of $56,965,000 set in 2014.
The average price was a sale record $90,245, up 14 per cent from $78,923, and far ahead of the previous mark of $79,068 set in 2015.
The median was a record $48,000, which surpassed the $47,000 a year ago. The 139 horses that did not sell represented an RNA rate of 17 per cent. It was 23 per cent a year ago. Sixty horses brought $250,000 or more compared to 40 in 2016.
Topped by a Creative Cause filly bought by trainer Linda Rice on behalf of Kaitar Racing for $850,000 from Tom McCrocklin, agent, Friday's session saw 143 horses sold for $13,152,200, down six per cent from the $14,012,000 total paid in 2016 for 165 head. The session average rose eight per cent, from $84,921 to $91,973, and the buyback percentage was 23 per cent, compared with 16 per cent a year ago. Fourteen horses sold for $250,000 or more, compared with 11 in 2016.
"It was very exciting to be a part of it," said OBS sales director Tod Wojciechowski. "It has already established itself as the most international two-year-old sale in the world. It grows every year. Horses that come out of here have proven themselves on the track and people appreciate that. Ultimately they want to go where they can buy a good horse."
Wojciechowski said the strength of the auction bodes well for the sales company's next juvenile sale, set for June.
"I ran into buyers who said it was difficult [to buy] and they would see us in June, so I definitely think it will help us," he said.
Tiznow colt the star of the show
The sale was highlighted by a Tiznow colt purchased by John Moynihan for a record $2.45 million on behalf of Coolmore's MV Magnier during a blockbuster Thursday session. Consigned by Bobby Dodd and Brad Grady's Grand Oaks, the colt's purchase price surpassed the previous OBS April record of $1.9 million fetched by the Tapit filly Inheritance in 2015.
Sharing the sale's second-highest price of $1 million were a Union Rags colt and a More Than Ready filly, both sold on Thursday.
The Union Rags colt was purchased by Red Barons Barn and Rancho Temescal from the Paul Sharp consignment, and the dark bay or brown daughter of More Than Ready was offered by Ciaran Dunne's Wavertree and purchased by Alessandro Marconi for Al Aasfa Racing.
The April sale followed other two-year-old sales over the past two years, in which buyers were willing to pay a premium for horses perceived to be the best, but was also noteworthy for the breadth of market, with stiff competition at all levels.
"The depth of the market has been very important," said OBS president Tom Ventura. "The upper end has been strong throughout the season, and this has been a true test of the middle market. There have been more trainers here from regional racetracks buying horses, and that's been a positive."
Ventura said it was also significant that some consignors, including those not often at the top of the market, scored major successes over the course of the week.
"Our consignors are very sharp horsemen and they took advantage of some of the low-end prices for yearlings and bought some athletes for reasonable prices, put them through their early training here, and it's turned out well for them," Ventura said.
Sellers and buyers agreed the sale was strong, boding well for the additional sales left in the two-year-old season, as well as the late summer and fall yearling sales, where many of the two-year-olds are scooped up by pinhookers.
"The bottom market has been strong, the middle has been strong, and the top of the market has been strong," said Torie Gladwell, who with husband Jimbo operate Top Line Sales.
"For what he had, we're very pleased with the market," said David O'Farrell, whose family's Ocala Stud sells only at OBS. "It's still tough in spots, but last year the market was much tougher for middle-market horses. Even at the bottom end, there was spirited bidding on some of those horses. I think it bodes well for two-year-old sales going forward and for the yearling sales."
"It's as strong as I've seen the April sale in a long time," said trainer Jeff Mullins, who went to $525,000 to acquire an Awesome Again filly on behalf of Michael Cannon's Cannon Thoroughbreds from the consignment of Q Bar J Thoroughbreds. "We've been outbid quite a few times."
With the crowd definitely thinner Friday than earlier in the week, more buying opportunities presented themselves to some who found it hard to get what they wanted, according to agent Dennis O'Neill.
"It's been shocking to say the least," O'Neill said of the strength of the market, especially at the top end. "It seems like today it's been more realistic. I think the yearling sales should be really good now that pinhookers have more money."
Wavertree was leading consignor, with 36 horses sold for $4,085,000, followed by de Meric Sales, with $3,527,200 in receipts for 40 sold.
With the single purchase, Moynihan was leading buyer, at $2.45 million, followed by Rice's six purchases for $1,685,000.
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