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Million-Dollar Quality Road Filly Tops OBSAPR Day 2

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Session-topping hip 444 in the ring | Photos by Z

By Jessica Martini & Christie DeBernardis

OCALA, FL – The action picked up noticeably during Wednesday’s second session of the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company’s April Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training, with bidding fast and furious both in the pavilion and back walking ring throughout the day, and a filly by Quality Road bringing top price of $1 million. Bloodstock agent Emmanuel de Seroux made the winning seven-figure bid on the classy filly (hip 444), who was consigned by de Meric sales.

During Wednesday’s session, 171 horses sold for $22,360,500 for an average of $130,768 and a median of $80,000. Through the first two sessions of the four-day auction, 331 juveniles have grossed $37,416,500. The average of $113,041 is up 14.7% from the corresponding figure at last year’s sale and the median is up 27.3% to $70,000. Through two sessions of the 2018 sale, which ended with record gross, median and average, 359 horses had sold for $35,382,500. The average was $98,558 and the median was $55,000.

At the close of business in Ocala Wednesday, the two-day buy-back rate was 23.7%. At the end of last year’s second session, it was 21.9% and that figure fell to 18.8% with the inclusion of post-sale transactions.

“As always, I think the sale takes a day or so to gather momentum,” said Nick de Meric, whose de Meric Sales is the leading consignor at the auction’s halfway mark. “[Tuesday], we put nine through the ring and we sold all of them. Some of them inexpensively, but that’s fine too because inexpensive horses need to get sold as well. So I would say, top to bottom, this looks like a very healthy market. I think it’s gathering steam and I’m sure that looking around at the buying bench, these guys have a ways to go. There are a lot of nice horses still to go and I’m sure there will be some fancy prices.”

During Wednesday’s blockbuster day of selling, 20 horses brought $300,000 or more, exceeding the two-day 2018 total of 19. In all, 29 juveniles have topped $300,000 so far this April.

Aron Wellman, whose Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners purchased a Palace Malice colt for $550,000 Wednesday, continued to see polarization in the market.

“It is the same as it has been for five or six years now,” Wellman said. “The quality, or what is perceived to be quality, is selling well and the other stuff is struggling to find its way through the market. I do sense that there is some trepidation in the air with the current events and the industry at the moment. There is a lot better energy in here today. You see all the big players here [Wednesday] and the heavyweights duking it out, so that is good. I think we are bound for a tick of softening, but again, we just paid $550,000 for a horse that has run a quarter of a mile. I still think it is very healthy for the right horses.”

De Seroux’s Narvick International is the leading buyer through two sessions, having purchased 10 lots for $2,460,000.

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

Quality Road Filly Lights Up the Board

Bloodstock agent Emmanuel de Seroux, active all season long at the top-level of the juvenile sales, was forced to $1 million to secure a filly by Quality Road on behalf of an undisclosed client Wednesday at the second session of the OBS April sale.

“The owner prefers to remain anonymous,” de Seroux said after signing the ticket on hip 444. “She’ll probably race in the U.S.”

Consigned by de Meric Sales, which purchased her for $220,000 at last year’s Keeneland September sale, the bay filly is out of Paris Rose (Accelerator), a half-sister to graded stakes winner Decelerator (Dehere) and graded placed Cool Blue Red Hot (Harlan’s Holiday). Under the juvenile’s second dam is City of Light (Quality Road) and, she, like this year’s GI Pegasus World Cup Invitational winner, was bred by Ann Marie Farm.

“You look at her and you love her,” de Seroux said. “And then she is by Quality Road, who is one of the very best stallions around. She has a fantastic pedigree, she is bred on the same cross as City of Light. So there is not too much not to like about her.”

The filly solidified her sales credentials with a furlong work in :9 4/5 during last week’s under-tack preview.

“She was a very easy mover,” de Seroux said of the work. “Not only did she move fast, but she did it effortlessly. A lot of horses can go fast, but she did it just in style.”

Nick de Meric said picking out the million-dollar filly last year at Keeneland was a team effort.

“My son [Tristan] and daughter-in-law [Valerie] and my wife [Jaqui] and I split up and work the September sale, like we all do,” de Meric recalled. “And she is one that we picked out there. City of Light hadn’t come along yet, but we loved the filly physically. And Quality Road, as we all know, has been on a roll. The old cliche ‘she checked all the boxes,’ couldn’t be truer with this filly. She had a panther-like walk and a demeanor that set her apart from all the horses we looked at that day, and in fact the whole sale.”

De Meric continued, “I’ve got to give Tristan and Valerie all the credit [for the filly’s development]. They’ve had her in their division all winter and did a magnificent job with her. I’ve watched her right through the process, she’s just done everything you could ask of a young horse in training. She never had any setbacks. They don’t come along like her very often and when they do, it’s wonderful when you get rewarded a bit.”

The filly’s seven-figure price tag wasn’t a surprise, according to de Meric.

“It’s been a little while since we’ve sold a million-dollar horse, but if ever there was one that we had in recent years that looked like she could do it, this was the one,” the horseman said. “It’s like she breathed different air. She’s a special filly. We wish Mr. de Seroux and his client the very best of luck. He bought a very special horse.”

Of the filly’s breeze show performance, de Meric admitted, “I’ve been doing this an awfully long time and I don’t get any less nervous going into these breeze shows then I did when I started. But when we’ve got one that we feel is special, it quadruples everything. Is the rider going to break on time? Is she going to get the lead right? Is she going to do what we think she’s capable of doing? And mercifully the answers were yes on all counts with her.”

De Seroux was the leading buyer at the OBS March sale, purchasing eight juveniles on behalf of Prince Sultan bin Mishal  al Saud for a total of $3,050,000. The Frenchman’s Narvick International purchased five 2-year-olds at the Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream sale, including a $1.2-million son of Medaglia d’Oro, for $2,470,000. @JessMartiniTDN

Tiznow Colt a Find for Bobo

Tami Bobo, who initially purchased a weanling colt by Tiznow for $100,000 in 2017, had her reward delayed, but duly cashed in at OBS Wednesday when re-selling the youngster for $600,000 to Solis/Litt on behalf of LNJ Foxwoods and NK Racing. Hip 321, out of multiple graded placed Marquee Delivery (Marquetry) is a half-brother to Grade I winner Promises Fulfilled (Shackleford) and to multiple stakes winner and graded placed Marquee Miss (Cowboy Cal).

Bobo originally purchased the colt at the Fasig-Tipton November sale.

“He was a big leggy colt, just a beautiful colt,” Bobo said of the youngster’s appeal. “We tried to pinhook him as a yearling and of course we were very high on him at that point and we bought him back for $285,000 [at Keeneland September]. We decided to go on with him as a 2-year-old and hope that the horse that we thought we had was there.”

The bay colt worked a quarter-mile during last week’s under-tack show in :21 flat.

“He developed phenomenally well,” Bobo confirmed. “He’s a strong colt and impeccably minded and that’s what it takes to be a good racehorse.”

Bobo began in the industry as a yearling-to-juvenile pinhooker, but has diversified her operation in recent years.

“I initially came into this business 10 years ago and I was introduced into it pinhooking 2-year-olds,” she said. “I pinhooked 2-year-olds for about seven years and I just decided that the weanling to yearlings was something that I wanted to transition into as I saw the market bearing that way. So I went into the weanling and yearlings and of course, if you’re going to do weanlings and yearlings, you’re going to have a broodmare band. Now we have a broodmare band that we do all Kentucky-breds. We have the broodmare band in Kentucky and then they come here [to Florida], so that gives us that weanling operation and the yearling operation.”

Alex Solis agreed the colt looked to be the complete package.

“He is just a great physical, who breezed really well and has a really nice pedigree,” Solis said. “The mare has thrown two really nice horses. You like a mare who can throw a runner. And he performed.”

Asked if he had looked at the horse last fall at Keeneland, Solis said, “We liked him there, he was a nice horse, but we just passed on him. Another colt is always there. It was good to see him again; he’s gotten bigger and he’s done all the right things.” @JessMartiniTDN

Speedy Speightstown Joins Delacour Barn

Roy and Gretchen Jackson’s Lael Stables has a new addition in hip 453, a Speightstown colt, who sold to their trainer Arnaud Delacour for $585,000. The bay breezed in a bullet :9 4/5.

“We liked him,” said Delacour. “He breezed fast. He has been showing great the last three days.”

Bred by Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings, hip 453 is a full-sibling to Grade I winner Lighthouse Bay. Consignor Bruno DeBerdt paid $135,000 for him at Keeneland September.

“This horse deserved to bring that,” DeBerdt said. “He is a good horse, an honest horse. You are going to see a lot more of him in the future. Mentally, he has always been an ideal horse. The first 60 days, he was just kind of one of the horse, but after we put some training on him, he got more business-like. He has always been very consistent.”

He added, “I am pleased for the partners. You need a few of those to keep the whole thing going because the market is so polarized if a horse doesn’t jump through all the hoops, you aren’t going to get paid.” @CDeBernardisTDN

Determination Pays Off for Eclipse with Palace Malice Colt

Eclipse Thoroughbreds’ Aron Wellman and his team had their sights set on hip 368, a colt from the first crop of Palace Malice, and their determination paid off when they secured the colt for $550,000. The colt will be trained by Todd Pletcher, who also conditioned his MGISW sire.

“Obviously Palace Malice is extremely special to us having been campaigned by Cot Campbell and Dogwood Stable,” Wellman said. “Some of the partners on Palace Malice have morphed into the Eclipse program, for which we are extremely grateful. In fact, we were pretty adamant that we were going to buy this colt here today and we picked out a name for him. He will be named after Mr. Campbell. He will be named Cothran.”

A :10 flat breezer, Hip 368 is out the unraced Malibu Moon mare Moon Beamy, who also produced MSW Daddy Justice (Lantana Mob).

“We knew it was going to be a battle in there going in,” Wellman said. “He was an incredibly classy colt through and through. He was incredibly fast on the racetrack. He carried himself the entire week. When he walked in the back ring, you could tell he was cut from a different class. Time will tell always and hopefully our opinion of him today will hold true in a year.”

Bred by Justice Farm, the dark bay was picked up by Albert Davis, who consigned the colt through his Old South Farm, for $110,000 at Keeneland September.

“He looked a whole lot like he did now, a big pretty colt, well balanced with a great walk,” Davis said of the colt as a yearling. “You don’t know if they can run, but he looked like he could and I think he can.”

He continued, “He has done everything like we wanted him to do. He grew up, filled out and came here and did his job. I never expect anything. I knew he was a nice horse and I hoped to be well paid.”

When asked his thoughts on the first crop of Palace Malice, Davis said, “He is the only Palace Malice I have had, but based on him, I would like to have another one.” @CDeBernardisTDN

Fletcher Strikes for Curlin Colt

Frank Fletcher has been a fan of Curlin since the first time he saw him at his home track at Oaklawn Park and he struck early Tuesday to secure a son of the Hill ‘n’ Dale stallion (hip 332) for $525,000. The Little Rock, Arkansas native has yet to pick a trainer for his new addition.

“We love Curlin,” Fletcher said after signing the ticket seat alongside bloodstock agent Donato Lanni. “I was in the [GI] Arkansas Derby, many years ago, and they brought Curlin in and I said, ‘We are not going to win.’ He was a big, strapping stallion. He walked away with the Arkansas Derby, so I always liked him. That was the only time I finished in the Arkansas Derby. I finished third with Son of Rocket. Anyway, it was a. big day and I will never forget Curlin.”

As for what he liked about this colt, who breezed in :10 2/5 for consignor Niall Brennan, Fletcher said, “We went over and looked at him a lot. He is very calm. We look at their mind as much as their ability. If they are calm walking around here, they will be calm when you put them in the gate. If they are crazy out here, by the time they are getting to race, no matter how much ability they have, they get crazy. We have bought some expensive horses whose mind was not as good as their body.”

Bred in Ontario by Josham Farm, Hip 332 is out of MGSP Mekong Delta (Stormy Atlantic), who is a full-sister to Canadian champion Leonnatus Anteas.

“He is a beautiful colt,” said Josham Farm’s Ted Burnett, who has a broodmare band of about 25 horses in Ontario. “He was a little bit behind growing up, so we just waited until we got him a little bit more mature. If you look at the colt, you will see there is more potential left in him. Six months from now, he will be a big powerful horse. He has talent, he had a great work, he galloped out great.”

He continued, “We bred the Canadian champion Leonnatus Anteas and the mare, who is a full sister to him. It is a nice pedigree and goes back two or three generations of our own breeding program, so we are happy with it.” @CDeBernardisTDN

Commissioner Filly Raises the Bar

Bloodstock agents Jason Litt and Alex Solis made their second big purchase of Wednesday’s second session of the OBS April sale when going to $475,000 to acquire a filly from the first crop of multiple graded stakes winner Commissioner (A.P. Indy). The filly, bred by Polo Green Stable, had been purchased by Q Bar J Thoroughbreds for $40,000 at last year’s Fasig-Tipton July Yearling Sale.

“She had all the parts and pieces as a yearling and she bloomed and turned into just what we hoped she would,” said Q Bar J’s Quincy Adams.

The bay filly, out of Money Madness (Rahy) (hip 365), turned heads in Ocala last week with a quarter-mile work in a bullet :20 1/5.

“It was an amazing work,” Adams said. “She just skipped across the racetrack and galloped out like none that I’ve owned before.”

Of Wednesday’s result in the sales ring, Adams added, “I think they got a good horse and we’re thrilled. I hope she pans out for everyone.” @JessMartiniTDN

Brown Secures Pricey Karakontie Filly for Klaravich

Hip 422, a filly from the first crop of Karakontie (Jpn), provided her GI Breeders’ Cup Mile-winning sire with his biggest sale to date when hammering for $460,000 to trainer Chad Brown, who was acting on behalf of Seth Klarman’s Klaravich Stable.

“The horse breezed really well,” Brown said. “We think she is a really good prospect and we think the stallion has a good chance. I saw some yearlings I liked. Of the 2-year-olds I have seen, going around to the farms and such, this looked like one of the better ones, so we are keen to get her.”

Bred by Jim and Pam Robinson’s Brandywine Farm, Hip 422 was purchased by consignor Barry Eisaman for $150,000 at Keeneland September. Out of MSP Oblivious (Cozzene), the :10 flat breezer is a half to SW Street Storm (Stormy Atlantic). @CDeBernardisTDN

Ryan Wins Out on Paynter Filly

Hip 312, a filly by Paynter, set the tone for the second session early, igniting a spirited round of bidding before hammering for $450,000 to bloodstock agent Mike Ryan, who was acting on behalf of Allen Wise’s Wise Racing. The bay will go to trainer Chad Brown.

“Hopefully we will see her on a Saturday afternoon at Saratoga,” Ryan remarked after signing the ticket alongside Wise and shaking Brown’s hand. “I knew it was going to be tough to get her. We knew Paynter or no Paynter she would sell herself and she did. There are a lot of smart horse people here. When I saw Bob Baffert out back, I said, ‘This is not going to be good.’ This filly had Linda Rice and Bob Baffert [bidding on her], a lot of astute people were on her.”

Bred by Falcon Wood Partners, the :10 flat breezer is out of SP Mallory Street (Street Sense) and hails from the family of GISW New Year’s Day (Street Cry {Ire}) and MGSW Mohaymen (Tapit).

“She breezed phenomenal,” Ryan said. “She is a very powerful filly and did it the right way. She comes from a great consignor [Barry Eisaman], who does a fantastic job. I know the filly very well. I bred her with Gerry Dilger. We still have the mare. She is in foal to Practical Joke and has a Practical Joke on the ground.”

Ryan continued, “The filly blew me away. She sold herself. She is by Paynter, who I really like. I think he is underrated as a stallion. They have a lot of heart. They are tough. He was a very tough, good horse himself. I understand Bob Baffert was underbidder and he knows more about Paynter than the rest of us. She was an exceptional filly and we knew we were going to have to reach for her.”

Eisaman purchased Hip 312 for $50,000 at Keeneland September and said he was pleased with her final price Tuesday.

“She was always very correct and very healthy,” Eisaman said. “She has grown noticeably. She is out of a Street Sense mare and she looks a lot like a Street Sense. She has immense speed and she has a pedigree that will carry at a distance. You should probably go wager in the future wagers for the Kentucky Oaks of next year.”

He added, “She is a wonderful filly, who showed herself well here. Her vet work was impeccable. Paynter is doing better and catching on as a sire. I couldn’t say more about her as an athlete and a potential star.” @CDeBernardisTDN

Quick Start for All in Line Stables

All in Line Stables got its first-ever consignment off to a quick start with the very horse through the ring during Tuesday’s opening session of the OBS April sale. Hip 1, a son of Blame who had RNA’d for $19,000 at last year’s Fasig-Tipton October sale, sold for $290,000 to Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners.

“I’d partnered with [breeder] Bruce Gibbs up in Kentucky,” explained All in Line Stables manager Karl Keegan. “He’d RNA’d her for $19,000. When I got him back down here, he just thrived at the farm and went from A to Z. We brought a beautiful horse over here to market and the market rewarded us. They gave us $290,000 for our first horse ever sold. It was a pretty exciting start.”

All in Line Stables is located on 125 acres in Morriston and clients with horses at the farm include Bob Edwards’s e Five Racing and D J Stable.

“I basically came in here and took over managing the farm just a little under four years ago,” Keegan, who was assistant trainer and assistant manager at Goldmark Farm from 2006 through 2015, explained. “I set up a three-year business plan, but the pinhooking was not in the plan. It was just to bring in some high-end clients, fix the farm up and put in a beautiful turf course. We achieved all of those things and got some great people in. So the last couple of years, I’ve been going up to the sales and getting some horses and bringing them back to the barn and partnering up on some RNA’s with some people.”

The farm’s first pinhooks were offered through Niall Brennan’s consignment, but Keegan said, “We decided to get in and start doing it ourselves this year.”

He continued, “My focus is definitely breaking and rehabbing racehorses, but we would also like to bring some quality horses to auction. We just want to be open and honest about our consignment and take it from there. We want to show people horses who are really well-prepared, healthy horses in tip-top condition.”

One of the things which sets All in Line Stables apart is its state-of-the-art turf course.

“It’s not an oval,” Keegan said of the turf course. “It’s a three-eighths of a mile straightaway and a five-eighths of mile circle. And they get to go up and down hills. So the five-eighths circle, we can go left handed one day or right handed another day. We have it all under lights, so we can get out there and train these horses in the morning in the winter. We don’t have to wait for the sun to come up, we can actually take a set or two every morning out to the turf course. So they are getting on the turf course twice a week. It’s really nice. It’s different for them mentally, but you also get to see them moving differently over different surfaces.”

Keegan expects to be active at the upcoming yearling sales and plans for future All in Line Stables’ consignments are flexible.

“We’re definitely going up to September this year with a little budget and we’re going to start buying some horses to pinhook,” Keegan said. “And you never know what the future holds. If it’s what happens, we’re open to expanding the consignment.” @JessMartiniTDN

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