By Brian DiDonato & Steve Sherack
Juvenile sales season gets underway Tuesday with the first session of the OBS March Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale beginning at 10:30 a.m. A catalog of 573 head have been assembled for the two-day auction. As of midday Monday, there were 123 outs.
Breeze shows were held Mar. 8, 9 and 10 with windier weather yielding slower times on day one. A total of 19 horses stopped the clock in :9 4/5 for a furlong, while one colt worked the fastest quarter of :20 1/5.
“The first day [of the breeze show] was a bit of a challenge–the winds certainly kicked up–but the second two days were very good,” said OBS President Tom Ventura. “Ultimately, the horses had a good opportunity to show their stuff. Just walking around right now [Sunday] morning, there’s a lot of activity here. We’re looking forward to the sale.”
Consignor Ciaran Dunne of Wavertree Stables also noted the difference in weather conditions between the showcase days, but didn’t think it would have much of an impact on prices.
“The first day was very tough,” Dunne said while keeping a close eye on Sunday’s Arsenal vs. Watford contest. “Obviously, nobody has any control over the wind–I think a headwind is the toughest thing that we deal with when it comes to breeze shows. But the guys who do this professionally are very good at what they do. The horses have been well-received even if they weren’t :10 flats or :9 4/5. They’ve given them a little bit of leeway for the conditions. The last two days we couldn’t have asked for better conditions and the horses really got a chance to show themselves.”
A major storyline at virtually every sale in recent years has been the strength at the top of the market but relative spottiness in the middle and lower segments. Dunne is hopeful for a solid 2-year-old market overall in 2018.
“I think we’re all optimistic,” he said. “The under-tack shows were really well attended and we’ve been very busy here–they started looking as soon as the first day’s breezers were done. It seems that there’s not only top-end buyers here. There’s also a core of guys you would expect to be in the middle. If they follow through, it could be a great season.”
David O’Farrell of Ocala Stud is also looking forward to a strong March sale, but acknowledged the feast-or-famine environment could still exist.
“I think it’s going to be really strong.” said O’Farrell. “The yearling sales were very good, the breeding stock sales were great, the stock market’s still good. The 2-year-old sales have produced a lot of top-class runners and I think they’re gaining in popularity each and every year. If the market continues to hold up, I think it’s going to be a hell of a sale. There’s still going to be some polarization and it will be tough sledding for some, but if you have what they want it’s going to be gangbusters.”
The aforementioned bullet quarter mile breeze belonged to hip 567, a Goldencents colt who stopped the clock in :20 1/5. The Feb. 16 foal was a $115,000 Keeneland September yearling buy by consignor Hoby Kight for Beryl “Sonny” Stokes Jr.
“He’s been training well all winter,” said Kight after walking hip 567 himself for some potential buyers. “I hauled him over here and worked him a couple of times and he did everything right. I was expecting him to go fast, but you never know they’re gonna go :20 1/5.”
Gross receipts at the immediate conclusion of last year’s sale were $56,627,000, good for a record average of $188,757 and median of $100,000. The RNA rate was 27.5% before OBS added in post-sale transactions to its final statistics.
Last year’s sale topper was a $1.7-million Congrats filly consigned by McKathan Bros., Agent III and purchased by Kerri Radcliffe on behalf of Phoenix Thoroughbreds. Eventually named Diamondsandpearls and turned over to Bob Baffert, she romped first out to be named a ‘TDN Rising Star‘ and finished fourth in the GII Sorrento S. before being sidelined.
Other noteworthy graduates of last year’s March sale include:
– Instilled Regard (Arch), the fourth-priciest lot at $1.05 million and winner of the GIII Lecomte S. for Larry Best’s OXO Equine.
– Four-time stakes winner Take Charge Paula (Take Charge Indy), scooped up for just $50,000 and most recently second in the GII Davona Dale S. after making the grade in the GIII Forward Gal S. following a private purchase.
– Speedy turfer and ‘Rising Star‘ Analyze It (Point of Entry), a $190,000 pick-up by Pete Bradley for Bill Lawrence who was last seen dominating Del Mar’s GIII Cecil B. DeMille S.
– Michael Lombardi’s Lombo (Graydar), who only cost $75,000 but ran away with Santa Anita’s GIII Robert B. Lewis S.
– Pure Silver (Mission Impazible), $125,000, who took her first three starts including Saratoga’s GII Adirondack S. for Twin Creeks Racing Stables.
– Engage (Into Mischief), who cost $550,000 and annexed Belmont’s GIII Futurity S. in October for Woodford Racing.
– Carolyn’s Wilson’s The Tablulator (Dialed In), who went for $460,000 and later grabbed the GIII Iroquois S.
– Ruler of the Nile (Pioneerof the Nile), a romping debut winner for Robert and Lawana Low at Tampa Bay Downs Saturday. He was the fifth-most expensive OBSMAR grad at $1
For more OBS March information including live video of the sale visit www.obssales.com.