Brisk Trade Continues at OBS April

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Hip 352 in the ring | Tibor & Judit Photography

By Jessica Martini & Christie DeBernardis

OCALA, Fla.–Activity remained brisk as the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company’s April Spring Sale of 2-Year-Olds continued with a record-setting second session in Central Florida Wednesday. During the session, 180 juveniles grossed $18,932,500–a highwater mark for the April sale. The session average was $105,181, an increase of 24.5% from last year’s second session, while the median rose 40% to $56,000.

“I think it was an excellent session,” OBS Director of Sales Tod Wojciechowski said at the close of business Wednesday. “It displayed a lot of depth from top to bottom. Eighteen of the top 20 horses were bought by different buyers, so I think that the buyers spread out over a lot of horses.”

Through two sessions of the four-day auction, 345 horses have sold for $34,639,500. The cumulative average is $100,404–up 18.6% from the same point at last year’s auction–and the median is up 22.2% to $55,000.

The two-day buy-back rate stands at 21.9%. It was 18.7% after post-sale transactions were included in last year’s figure.

A colt by Tapit (hip 352) brought Wednesday’s top price, selling to for $750,000 to Robert and Lawana Low. The juvenile was consigned by Niall Brennan, who also consigned the day’s second highest priced offering, a $700,000 son of Speightstown (hip 403). Brennan is the leading consignor so far at the sale, with 17 sold for $3,982,000.

“I think it started off okay,” Brennan said of the market. “I know there were a lot of outs [Tuesday], but the first day is always testing the waters. The first breeze day was very difficult with that head wind, so it probably didn’t give people a good perspective on those horses. I think the sale will gather momentum from that. There are a lot of people here. They are doing their homework and working the sale hard. I think the horses will sell well across the board.”

Bloodstock agent Jacob West, who signed the ticket on the Tapit colt on behalf of the Lows, saw familiar trends in the marketplace.

“It is no different than any other sale in the world,” West said. “For the past 100 years it has been the same way. Everybody says there is no middle market. Well, there is no market for horses that people don’t want. If they do want your horse, they are going to pay for it. It is no different than any other sale in the world. People are getting rewarded for bringing nice horses to the sales.”

Bloodstock agent Justin Casse did see signs of optimism in the middle market.

“I had high expectations coming into the 2-year-old season, but they were kind of a let down a bit,” Casse said. “I think this sale has been a bright spot so far. The middle market, as we have known for years, is almost non-existent, but there seems to be some signs of that here. There are some horses that are falling in that range. It is almost like some buyers are holding their money for this sale and May. They just can’t get past the stigma that March is a select sale and the middle market doesn’t show up to those sales.”

Marette Farrell, who purchased the day’s top-priced filly, a daughter of Malibu Moon (hip 534) for $700,000 on behalf of Speedway Stables, agreed demand for the top lots was strong.

Farrell summed up the market in one word. “Irrational.”

She continued, “You go up after a colt like the Big Drama [Tuesday], who was a tremendous athlete, a beautiful homebred, no question about his possible ability, but he is by a questionable stallion and he makes all the money that he makes [$475,000]. And then you see some other good horses by proven stallions that are not quite making what you think they might. So I think it’s quite a stratified market. And it seems like there are a lot of entities with a lot of money. So if they zone in on one horse, they don’t stop. We’ve seen that case here over the last couple of days, so you hope you’re not on that horse.”

The OBS April sale continues through Friday with sessions beginning daily at 10:30 a.m.

West Hoping He Found 2019 Derby Runner

Jacob West signed the $380,000 ticket on undefeated ‘TDN Rising Star’ and top GI Kentucky Derby contender Magnum Moon (Malibu Moon) on behalf of Robert and Lawana Low at the 2016 Keeneland September sale. The bloodstock agent had to stretch a bit beyond that Wednesday for a colt he hopes will be the Lows’ 2019 Derby contender in a $750,000 son of Tapit.

Bred by WinStar Farm and Winchell Thoroughbreds, hip 352 is out of SW & GSP Flaming Heart (Touch Gold), who was purchased by WinStar for $1.5 million carrying a foal by Street Cry (Ire) at the 2007 Keeneland November sale. The resulting foal was Mythical Bride, who is the dam of recent GII Wood Memorial S. winner and Derby contender Vino Rosso (Curlin). Flaming Heart also produced MGSW and GI Belmont S. runner-up Commissioner (A.P. Indy); and GSW & GISP Laugh Track (Distorted Humor).

“Tapit needs no introduction and [the colt] is a three-quarter brother to a horse that just missed in an American Classic in Commissioner,” West said. “He is a half-brother to the dam of Vino Rosso, so it is a real stallion’s pedigree. Out of a Touch Gold mare and by Tapit, he looks like he can run all day. We are looking for two-turn, Classic-type horses and that is what he was to us. We have had a lot of luck with May foals that have gone two turns like Magnum Moon. It has worked out well for us.”

As for the price, West said, “That is where we thought he would be. As I said, being a son of Tapit with that type of pedigree and that physique and all the things that he had, you should know that you are not going to walk into the ring and steal him.”

Consignor Niall Brennan was also not surprised by the :10 2/5 breezer’s final price.

“I really did [expect the price],” Brennan said. “He’s a Tapit with a tremendous pedigree and he’s a lovely horse that wasn’t pushed to get here, but he has just improved dramatically in the past couple of months. We weren’t hard on him at all. He is a horse for the future. There is no question. I’ve got a lot of confidence in the colt. He’s got a great mind and has handled everything so well. I think he is well bought at that [price].”

Hip 352 will join the barn of seven-time Eclipse winner Todd Pletcher, who trained Commissioner and is the conditioner of Magnum Moon and Vino Rosso. West expressed both confidence and excitement about Magnum Moon’s Derby chances.

“He is an incredible horse,” West said. “He is undefeated. He has done everything we have ever asked him to do and never batted an eye or turned a hair the wrong way. He is at Churchill now galloping and will breeze Friday, tentative with the weather schedule. We hope all goes well and we’ll go from there, but we wouldn’t trade places with anybody else. We are excited.”

@CDeBernardisTDN

Speightstown Colt Works Magic at OBS

A colt by Speightstown, purchased for $200,000 at last year’s Keeneland September Yearling Sale, had been expected to start his racing career in England, but when his half-brother Good Magic (Curlin) won the GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last fall, connections called an audible and sent him to consignor Niall Brennan in Ocala. The decision paid off in spades Wednesday when the dark bay colt sold for $700,000.

Emmanuel de Seroux of Narvick International, bidding alongside Japanese agent Riki Takahashi, signed the ticket on behalf of Katsumi Yoshida.

“He has a fantastic pedigree; his brother is running in the Derby with a chance and he’s by Speightstown who is a proven horse who has done very well in Japan, so we have high hopes for him,” de Seroux said.

Named Wicked Wizard, hip 403 is out of multiple stakes winner Glinda the Good (Hard Spun). He was bred by Stonestreet Thoroughbreds, which also bred and co-owns last year’s Eclipse champion juvenile Good Magic. That $1-million Keeneland September graduate heads to the Kentucky Derby off a win in the GII Toyota Blue Grass S.

“He is a very good-moving colt,” de Seroux said of the youngster. “He’s a beautiful type and we think he has a stallion pedigree. If he wins a group race, he’s a stallion. Down the road, there is a lot of potential with him.”

Brennan, who has only had the colt since the first of the year, has been impressed by his rapid progression.

“The owner is in England and bought him as a yearling to race,” Brennan explained of the youngster’s circuitous route to OBS. “The horse was in England, but when Good Magic came up and won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, they called me and said, ‘This could be a really good business opportunity, do you think we could sell him in America?’ So they got him on a plane and sent him over. We got him around New Year’s and they had just started breaking him–he was very babyish.”

Brennan targeted the colt towards the April sale.

“They said take your time and do what’s right, but don’t overdo it,” Brennan said. “We’re happy to race him. This colt just made a lot of progress to get here. He’s a very nice colt in his own right and his brother just made it a huge pedigree.”

Of the colt’s furlong work in :10 flat last week, Brennan said, “He did that on his own, we didn’t rush him to get here. It’s a great business decision, but sometimes you’ve got to get lucky in this game. Right place, right time. Narvick and Riki made a good buy because they are looking at him as a nice physical, he worked super and he’s only going to improve. If his brother happens to win the Derby, they are going to look very, very good.”–@JessMartiniTDN

Malibu Moon Filly to Speedway

Peter Fluor of Speedway Stable, sitting alongside bloodstock agent Marette Farrell, acquired a filly by Malibu Moon for $700,000 during Wednesday’s second session of the OBS April sale. The dark bay filly (hip 534), consigned by de Meric Sales, is out of Just Joyful (Street Boss), an unraced half-sister to champion Boston Harbor (Capote).

“We thought she was the queen,” Farrell said. “We went around and looked at a lot of fillies and then re-looked at our short list and she was the one that consistently came out and did the same thing every time. She showed a lot of class and it’s a lovely family. She is a great mover with a lot of presence. So we are thrilled to have her.”

Also this spring, Speedway Stable acquired a colt by Uncle Mo (hip 21) for $850,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream sale.

The Malibu Moon filly, bred by Machmer Hall and Haymarket Farm, was purchased by De Meric Sales for $170,000 at last year’s Fasig-Tipton July sale.

“We picked her out as a team at the July sale,” Tristan de Meric said. “Carrie [Brogden of Machmer Hall] did keep a piece and we put a partnership together for the rest. It all went the right way. She was a beautiful filly when we got her and she has improved every single day. We were happy to have her in the barn. We need one or two like that a year to kind of make sense of everything.”

The de Merics and Brogden also joined forces on a pinhooking score two hips before the Malibu Moon filly sold when a colt by Kantharos, purchased for $9,000 at the Keeneland January sale, brought a final bid of $140,000.

“Carrie gets 100% of the credit for that one,” de Meric said of hip 531, who worked a quarter in :20 4/5. “She bought that horse in the Keeneland January sale and kept him at her place for six months and then sent him down to us. We split him with her sight unseen, just off pictures. She’s a great partner and she finds and breeds a beautiful horse.”–@JessMartiniTDN

Spendthrift Gets Into More ‘Mischief’

A filly by red-hot sire Into Mischief sparked fireworks late in Wednesday’s session and when the hammer fell at $650,000, the last man standing was a determined B. Wayne Hughes, whose Spendthrift Farm stands hip 606‘s sire.

“The :9 4/5 [breeze] didn’t hurt,” said Spendthrift General Manager Ned Toffey, who was seated beside Hughes during the bidding and signed the ticket on his behalf. “She is very balanced like Into Mischief. She’s not a really tall filly, but beautifully balanced, obviously really athletic, and has a great demeanor to her. She seems like she has a great mind, which is a characteristic of a lot of the Into Mischiefs. She looks like a talented filly, so we are excited to have her.”

The price was about what the Spendthrift team anticipated and consignor Paul Sharp was very pleased.

“I am extremely happy,” Sharp said after thanking Hughes and Toffey. “After a certain price, it is hard to know what they will bring. We just thought she was well received and Into Mischief is as hot as they come. We had our hopes high, let’s put it that way.”

Bred by the Clay family’s Runnymede Farm and Catesby W. Clay Investments 2, hip 606 is out of Runnymede homebred Loveofalifetime (Medaglia d’Oro), a half-sister to GSW & GISP Rogue Romance (Smarty Jones).

“We are very pleased with the sale, said Runnymede Vice President and General Manager Romain Malhouitre. “We usually sell more yearlings, but we thought she would be a good prospect to come here and it worked. As a May foal, she was good as a yearling, but a little bit on the small side. She showed plenty of speed here and ability, so we thought the 2-year-old market was a better place for her. I’d like to congratulate Paul Sharp and his team, who did a tremendous job, and Runnymede Farm, who raised the filly. I’d like to thank Spendthrift Farm. We loved the filly.”

In 2015, when Runnymede bred Loveofaliftime to Into Mischief, the stallion had already produced a two-time GI Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner from his first crop in Goldencents, who now stands alongside his sire at Spendthrift; and MGSW & MGISP Vyjack, who also came from that initial 2010 crop.

“Into Mischief always had multi-dimensional runners from sprinters to route horses,” Malhouitre said. “He showed quality right away. Every Sunday morning he is in the TDN and it was a very good match on paper.”

Into Mischief is hotter than ever at the moment due to the exploits of GI Florida Derby hero and GI Kentucky Derby contender Audible; MGISW Practical Joke; undefeated GIII Beaumont S. winner Gas Station Sushi; and GSW One Liner. A colt by the Spendthrift stallion co-topped last month’s Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream sale at $1.2 million.

Prior to his success at stud, Into Mischief won the 2007 GI CashCall Futurity S. and earned just south of $600,000 for Hughes’s operation. He is also a half-brother to the farm’s four-time Eclipse winner Beholder (Henny Hughes) and Coolmore’s G2 UAE Derby winner and Kentucky Derby contender Mendelssohn (Scat Daddy).

“It means everything for the farm,” Toffey said of Into Mischief and Beholder’s success. “Into Mischief and Beholder are remarkable horses and both of them were bought for $180,000. To go on and do what they’ve done doesn’t happen very often, so you have to enjoy it when it does. Into Mischief is a once-in-a-lifetime horse and it means the world to the farm.”

Beholder retired at the end of 2016 after winning her fourth Eclipse award and her third Breeders’ Cup race in a thrilling showdown with champion Songbird (Medaglia d’Oro) in the GI Breeders’ Cup Distaff. The popular bay produced her first foal this year, a colt by Uncle Mo.

“Beholder is doing great,” Toffey said. “She is back in foal to Curlin and all is well with her. It is not determined yet if we will race the Uncle Mo. Probably, but you never know in this business. We will see how things go and how he grows up. Like every horse we raise, it can go either way. We will make that decision next spring.” @CDeBernardisTDN

Casse Wins Out on Candy Ride Colt After All

When the dust settled after a feverish round of bidding on a colt by Candy Ride (Arg), it originally appeared the bay would go elsewhere for $600,000. However, after what consignor Eddie Woods called a “miscommunication” was cleared up, hip 474 went to Justin Casse for $525,000. The colt will be trained by Casse’s brother Mark for a partnership of their longtime clients.

“We were the underbidders and it eventually ended up being knocked down to us,” Casse explained. “We were up in the front office and eventually it worked its way back up to us and we found a number that was suitable for both parties. Between my brother and myself, we are fortunate enough to have some nice clients that trust our opinions, so it was an easy one for us.”

As for the colt’s appeal, Casse said, “I was fortunate enough to see him breeze on Eddie’s farm about a month ago. He breezed really well there and I took notes on him and he showed up again here. I had the luxury of seeing him do the same thing twice basically. We rated him pretty highly.”

Woods was selling the :21 flat worker on behalf of his breeder Bell Tower Thoroughbreds. Hip 474 is out of the unraced High on the Hill (Fusaichi Pegasus), who is a half-sister to GSW & MGISP Lil’s Lad (Pine Bluff) and GSW Cherokee (Storm Cat). The juvenile RNA’d for $150,000 at last term’s Keeneland September sale.

“He is spectacular, a big, beautiful horse,” Woods said. “He worked spectacularly. His sire is the flavor of the month, if you want to call it that, but he has been for a while. He’s a big, strong horse that vetted well and that is what is selling well.”

Candy Ride’s demand has increased quite a bit over the past year thanks to 2017 Horse of the Year and Champion Older Male Gun Runner. The Lane’s End stallions was also represented by GI Frizette S. winner Separationofpowers and GI Manhattan S. hero Ascend in 2017. @CDeBernardisTDN

Calumet Adds Tapit Colt

A colt by Tapit will be joining Calumet Farm’s racing stable after bringing a final bid of $500,000 late in Wednesday’s second session of the OBS April sale. Calumet farm manager Eddie Kane, sitting alongside the farm’s Jak Knelman, signed the ticket on hip 592, a son of Lindsay’s Way (Giant’s Causeway) who was consigned by Niall Brennan Stables, agent. Out of Tenga (Mr. Prospector), Lindsay’s Way is a half-sister to Grade I winner Startac (Theatrical {Ire}) and to graded stakes placed Tenga Cat (Storm Cat). He worked a quarter last week in :21 flat.

“He’s got a wonderful family,” Knelman said of the colt’s appeal. “He came out here and breezed well and galloped out well. And most importantly, the Brennans said he had acclimated well to the sales grounds and he continued to do well. We knew where he came from. He was trained by Ian Brennan and came with Niall to the sales and we can really trust those horsemen and what they told us and the quality of this colt. We’re pretty excited to see what becomes of him.”

Bred by Gainesway, the juvenile RNA’d for $370,000 at last year’s Keeneland September sale. His dam, in foal to Tapit, sold for $435,000 at last year’s Keeneland Novemeber sale. —@JessMartiniTDN

Kantharos Colt a Sentimental Success for P & G Stables

P & G Stables owners Hernando Gutierrez and Neryna Morales could not be in attendance at OBS Wednesday when their homebred Kantharos colt hammered for $400,000 to bloodstock agents Alex Solis and Jason Litt, but Morales’s brother Julio Arnaldo “Yayo” Morales and their father Carlos were there to represent the family with big smiles after hip 552 left the ring.

“We are very happy with the price,” Julio Morales said. “The colt was born at their home in Weston [Florida, near Miami] and grew up there then he went to Off the Hook. Hernando is sick and they are in Houston. God will give them help and everything will be good with Hernando.”

Carlos Morales acquired the chestnut’s second dam Pugilistic (Maria’s Mon) for just $8,500 at the 2008 Keeneland November sale, carrying a foal by Best of the Bests (Ire). The resulting foal was hip 552’s dam La Catira Jatar, who never raced.

“The name of the dam is in honor of our grandmother, the mother of my father, and she is very happy in the sky right now,” Morales said.

Gutierrez acquired a service to Kantharos at an OBS sale when he stood in Florida at Ocala Stud. Just last term, the stallion was relocated to Hill ‘n’ Dale to test his mettle in the Kentucky market. Kantharos’s current top progeny include MGSW X Y Jet, most recently a heartbreaking second in the G1 Dubai Golden Shaheen for the second straight year; GSW & GISP Bucchero; and SW & GSP World of Trouble.

Hip 552 breezed in a bullet :9 4/5 for Joe Applebaum’s Off the Hook LLC, which campaigned 2012 GI United Nations S. winner Turbo Compressor (Halo’s Image) in partnership with P & G Stables. @CDeBernardisTDN

Fort Determined for Exhi Filly

Through two sessions of the OBS April sale, there have been notable successes for lesser known stallions, and longtime owner John Fort got into the action when going to $195,000 for a daughter of western Canadian-based Exhi (Maria’s Mon). The chestnut filly, consigned by Hidden Brook and bred by Bonne Chance Farm, is a half-sister to GI Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint winner Wavell Avenue (Harlington).

“It’s written right there on the pedigree,” Fort said of the filly’s appeal. “She’s a half to one of the fastest fillies we’ve had in a while. She ran first in the Breeders’ Cup and she was second in the same race the next year.”

Of the juvenile’s appeal, Fort added, “She’s a beautiful filly. She had a wonderful aura about her. We put a lot of confidence in that–kind of seeing the aura around the horse.”

Exhi, who won the 2010 GII Lexington S., stands at Highfield in Alberta, Canada for C$3,000.

“I’ve always gravitated to individuals,” Fort explained. “I bought two horses today by stallions who are either very unpopular or unknown. I bought a colt earlier today by Big Brown [hip 330 for $37,000]. And then this one. I could walk around here and pick a victim and bet $100 you’ve never heard of a horse named Exhi and they would say, ‘No, I never have.'”

Fort admitted he was unsure going in how much he would have to pay for the Exhi filly.

“I thought it was either going to be $200,000 or $50,000,” he said. “I wasn’t sure which way it was going to go.”

During Tuesday’s first session of the sale, a colt by blue-collar stallion Big Drama sold for $475,000. —@JessMartiniTDN

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