Seven-figure Orb colt leads the way at Florida breeze-up
Partnership including LNJ Foxwoods buys top lot
The first session of the Ocala Breeders' Sales' March sale of two-year-olds in training in Florida on Tuesday saw a continuation of the same trends at other auctions in recent years, with stiff demand at the top and about a third of the offerings returning to their owners.
Bolstered by a buying bench that included new and established owners, the day ended with a significant gain in average, a median that was on even terms with 2016, and a decline in gross because of fewer horses sold.
The sales company reported 137 lots changed hands for total receipts of $26,320,500, compared with $26,481,500 for the 169 sold on day one of the 2016 sale. The average soared 23 per cent to $192,120 from $156,322. The median both years was $110,000 for the first session.
The session topper, a colt from the first crop of Claiborne Farm stallion Orb, elicited a final bid of $1.25 million and was the lone seven-figure transaction on the day.
The end-of-session ratio of unsold horses was 34 per cent, compared with last year's 25 per cent. (OBS results, including not-sold rates, are later adjusted when private sales are reported to the sales company.)
"We had strength and diversity at the top, with the top ten horses going to nine different owners," said OBS sales director Tod Wojciechowski. "And the average was up and the median was even, and those are healthy signs. Of course, we would always like to see more strength in the middle."
Agent Donato Lanni, who bought an Exchange Rate colt for $850,000 on behalf of Susan Chu's Baoma Corporation, said it was tough buying at the top.
"It's a very strong market," Lanni said, after getting the colt who had been purchased by Pete Bradley as a yearling for $125,000. "Everybody seems to land on the same horses. With those horses that tick all the boxes, everybody comes out for them and they are really tough to buy."
The Orb colt (Hip 127) was bought by Alex Solis and Jason Litt on behalf of LNJ Foxwoods, Nancy Favreau, and Kathy Psoinos. The price represented a healthy return on the $350,000 investment of Crupi's New Castle Farm, which bought the colt as a yearling from the Denali Stud offerings at Keeneland's September yearling sale.
Bred in Kentucky by DATTT Farm, the colt is out of the unraced Forest Wildcat mare Remember, who is a half-sister to Grade 1 winner Dancing Forever. Included in the extended female family are champion Heavenly Prize, as well as top-class runners such as Dancing Spree, Furlough, Fantastic Find, and Good Reward.
The colt impressed during the under tack show when he breezed a furlong in ten seconds flat last week.
"He did everything right," Solis said of the colt. "We saw him breeze and the gallop out was very strong. He is just a well-balanced individual."
Solis said he his clients are impressed by Orb's offspring and were unsuccessful in attempting to buy some of his yearlings last year. "We're pretty high on the stallion," he said.
The ebullient Crupi was pleased with the outcome.
"It doesn't always happen but when it does, it's great," he said. "Every smart man was on him. He looked like a man as a yearling and he's a man now. He's class. He just stands there and then when you ask him, he's ready to go."
Sharing the day's second-highest price of $950,000 were three juveniles, two of which were purchased by new owners.
Agent Dennis O'Neill signed for a Maryland-bred Union Rags colt from the Bobby Dodd consignment on behalf of Amr Zedan, a newcomer to horse ownership who was born in California but resides in Saudi Arabia.
"He's a polo guy from Saudi Arabia who is getting into thoroughbreds and wants to compete at the top end," O'Neill said. "We went a little higher than we wanted to, but I told him this was the best colt in the sale and he said to get him."
O'Neill said the colt would be trained by his brother Doug on the Southern California circuit. Purchased by Dodd's Grand Oaks for $135,000 at the Keeneland September sale, the colt bred by The Elkstone Group is out of the stakes-winning Afleet Alex mare Alexandra Rylee.
Margaret Fauber, another new owner, went to $950,000 to secure a Curlin colt in the name of her Rattler Racing Corporation. Consigned as Hip 223 by Imagine, the colt is a half brother to multiple stakes winner Wake Up Nick and was bred in Kentucky by CRK Stables. Consigned by Paramount Sales to the Keeneland September yearling sale, the colt was bought back on a final bid of $120,000.
"If I had any self-control I wouldn't be doing this," Fauber said, adding that she owned Quarter Horses most of her life and acquired her first thoroughbred last fall.
California agent Mersad Metanovic, who accompanied Floridian Fauber to the sale, said he was impressed by the colt's under-tack work of a furlong in 10.2 seconds over OBS' artificial track, but had also seen him train on dirt.
"We also watched him train on dirt at Imagine, and if they think he worked well here, he worked like King Kong on dirt," Metanovic said. "He was exceptional."
Completing the trio was a Scat Daddy colt (Hip 295) purchased by Charlotte Weber's Live Oak Plantation. Bred in Florida by his consignor, Ocala Stud, the Valentine's Day foal is out of the winning Gone West mare West Side Dancer, also the dam of Grade 2 winner and Grade 1-placed Discreet Dancer, Grade 2 winner Travelin Man, and stakes winner Sweet N Discreet.
Eddie Woods was the first session's leading consignor, with eight sold for a total $3,155,000.
With five horses purchased for $2,135,000, O'Neill was leading buyer on the day.
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