By Jessica Martini
OCALA, FL – The Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company’s June Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training concluded with a bang Friday in Ocala, as a filly by Into Mischief brought a sales record final bid of $900,000 from Larry Best’s OXO Equine. The juvenile was consigned by Top Line Sales on behalf of Carlo Vaccarezza. The price bettered the auction’s previous record of $800,000, which was set by a City Zip colt in 2016.
“We are happy with the results of the sale, we set a record for the highest-priced horse and we increased our gross,” OBS Director of Sales Tod Wojciechowski said. “The June sale has evolved. This isn’t your father’s June sale. I think it bodes well for OBS as a whole and that consignors can have confidence that, no matter what sale they bring their horse to, they’ll have the opportunity to get what it’s worth.”
Through three sessions, OBS sold 609 juveniles for a gross of $21,493,300. The average of $35,293 rose 8.6% from 2018 and the median was up 13.3% to $17,000.
During the 2018 June sale, 530 head grossed $17,231,000 for an average of $32,511 and a median of $15,000.
The performances of June graduates on the racetrack have encouraged buyers to shop the auction with confidence and successful transactions in the ring have emboldened consignors to target the sale with their late-developing juveniles, according to OBS President Tom Ventura.
“We’ve had [GI Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner] Goldencents and [Grade I winner] Celestine and Stormy Liberal, a two-time Breeders’ Cup winner, come out of the June sale, so the sale has made huge strides,” Ventura said. “People come here thinking they can find something of any quality. And now we’ve had a horse that sold for $900,000, who three months ago was in our sale and didn’t bring $400,000 in March, was bought back, and that horse blossomed and people were rewarded for it. I think we’ve gotten past that stigma a while ago of it being the last sale of the year. I think the consignors just put the horses where they are ready to go and sometimes it’s the second time through, but more often we are seeing the first-time horses going through the sale. I think that’s certainly the direction this sale has been going.”
With 160 horses reported not sold, the cumulative buy-back rate was 20.8%. At the 2018 sale, the buy-back rate at close of business was 21.8% and that figure fell to 20.3% with the addition of post-sale transactions.
“It was evident that there was a lot of activity for the moderately priced horses,” said Ventura. “In comparing the buy-back rate, right at this moment, it’s a little difficult, although we’re pretty much on par. As we keep adding post-sales, I think it will be very comparable to last year.”
Ventura also saw the demand for horses right through to the end of the 1,059 catalogued head.
“Just being out back in the last 25 or 30 hips, there were still people scrambling to buy horses,” Ventura said. “So it wasn’t like we were finishing in an empty building. So that was good to see.”
Wavertree Stables was the auction’s leading consignor with 19 sold for $1,465,000 and OXO Equine, with its sole, sale-topping purchase, was the leading buyer.
Bloodstock agent David Ingordo saw plenty of positive trends at the June sale and attributed some increased activity at the lower middle end of the market to the New York Racing Association’s recent unveiling of a series of races restricted to 2-year-olds purchased for $45,000 or less.
“I like to buy a few for myself at a little bit of a cheaper level and take a shot,” Ingordo said. “I’ve found it hard for a decent lower-priced horse in the $50,000 to $100,000. They were hard to buy. With what Saratoga did with the $45,000 purchase price or under, there is a lot of activity here with people trying to buy those horses. So you see a lot of people stopping at $45,000. It’s competitive here for decent horses.”
Ingordo also observed a difference in what buyers and sellers think of as “middle market horses.”
“Something that should be said about the ‘middle market’–there is a price that we want to buy horses at. It’s a value that you give them, but they still have to jump through the hoops. They have to vet cleanly and have a good physical. There are a lot of people who want to buy horses in what we call the middle market. What the buyers want them to bring and what we as sellers want them to bring are different things. And sometimes when you make those match, you get a high clearance rate.”
But consignor Eddie Woods continued to see a weakness in the middle market and he found buyers more reluctant to buy horses with issues during the season’s last juvenile sale.
“It’s the same only worse here,” Woods said. “As the year has gone on, I think when you get into June, you run into a lot of horses with issues that, at this time of the year, people don’t want to mess with. Early in the year, they’ll take little things because you have time to recover. But they are only here for the perfect ones. We had the Puerto Ricans here, they needed to replenish their stock, and they created a great bottom in the market.”
Woods agreed the trends he saw at the sales this spring will effect his decision-making process going into the yearling sales.
“There will be no more, ‘Well, if he works ok, we’ll be all right.’ because we won’t be,” Woods said. “He has to be the real deal. It’s not necessarily the pedigree; he has to have the shape and sire power. Pedigree deems how much you spend for them and how much you get them for them. But you need sire power and the shape and the good video is so much more important now. But those horses that you say, ‘We’ll take a punt with him,’ there will be no more of them because we’re here in June with them now and it’s not going so good.”
Into Mischief on Top Again
Larry Best’s OXO Equine added another sale topper to its roster after bloodstock agent John Dowd went to a June record $900,000 to acquire a filly by Into Mischief (hip 748) during Friday’s final session of the OBS June sale. The result was another pinhooking success for Carlo Vaccarezza, who purchased the filly for $375,000 as part of his initial pinhooking venture at last year’s Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Sale. She was consigned by Top Line Sales.
The filly, bred by Allen Poindexter, is out of the unraced Rosemonde (Indian Charlie), whose first foal Rowayton (Into Mischief) was purchased by Best for $320,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale in 2017. The colt finished second in last year’s GI Del Mar Futurity and was third in the GI American Pharoah S. He was victorious in his sophomore debut in a highly rated Belmont allowance last Thursday.
“She’s a very nice filly, and obviously we have her full-brother and we really like him, so it made sense,” Dowd said. “She was a standout. She obviously was a March filly that happened to be back in June and she’s a really nice filly.”
The juvenile RNA’d for $400,000 after working a furlong in :10 1/5 at the OBS March sale.
“She did everything right in OBS March,” said Top Line’s Torie Gladwell. “She was just a heavy filly and she still looked like a big, immature baby. And then she just got better and better and ended up coming here.”
Top Line and Vaccarezza followed a similar path with a son of Into Mischief who sold for $710,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale after RNA’ing for $575,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream sale. That colt was a $265,000 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga yearling.
“She was just like the Into Mischief we had in Maryland,” Gladwell said. “Those big horses are hard to get ready for the early sales, Miami and March, and we liked them both enough not to give them away and it ended up working out.”
Gladwell said there was no concern about bringing the filly back to the last 2-year-old auction of the year.
“June is a great sale,” she said. “That horse was vetted by five or six of the right guys who had plenty of money to buy her. So there is definitely money at the June sale.”
Juveniles by Into Mischief have caused fireworks at several 2-year-old sales this spring. A filly by the Spendthrift stallion topped the Midlantic sale at $1.8 million when selling to Michael Lund Petersen. Best paid $1.5 million for another daughter at the Gulfstream sale and a colt by the sire topped the OBS April sale when bringing a final bid of $1.3 million from Team Casse.
Other highlights from Vaccarezza’s spring include an Uncle Mo filly purchased for $410,000 as a yearling who sold for $525,000 and a Candy Ride (Arg) filly purchased for $300,000 in 2018 who brought $675,000, both at OBS March. At the Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream sale, Vaccarezza sold an American Pharoah colt for $775,000. He had purchased the youngster for $235,000 in Saratoga.
The Italian restaurateur and trainer was quick to give credit for his success to the Gladwells.
“I just have to thank Jim and Torie Gladwell,” Vaccarezza said. “They helped us a lot. There are a lot of good people who helped us.”
Of hip 748, he added, “We did the right thing to take her out of the earlier sale. She has bloomed with the extra months. The extra time really let her show off her talent. I really loved her. She breezed phenomenally. Jimbo and Torie Gladwell did a phenomenal job and it paid off.”
Torie Gladwell, in turn, gave all the credit to Vaccarezza.
“Carlo has had a fantastic year,” she said. “He did an excellent job picking these horses out. We kind of stood back and let him do his job and had confidence in him. We are thankful to have him.”
The filly’s $900,000 price tag was a new high for Top Line Sales.
“We’ve never sold a horse for a million–that’s the closest we’ve ever gotten to a million,” Gladwell said. “I am probably still shaking.”
Asked if he planned to return to the yearling sales this year, Vaccarezza said, “We will–the thing is sometimes it’s hard. You have to do a lot of homework and you have surround yourself with good people. Jim Gladwell and John Shaw really helped us a lot. So we have a really good team and hopefully we can duplicate this next year.”
Vaccarezza took a moment to remember J.J. Crupi, who passed away last month.
“Crupi and I were friends and I’m sorry he’s gone,” he said.
Ghostzapper Filly a Score for Delvalle
John Connelly’s Stetson Racing, which enjoyed recent graded stakes success with GII Black-Eyed Susan S. winner Point of Honor (Curlin), added another filly to the stable with the $600,000 purchase of a filly by Ghostzapper (hip 914) Friday in Ocala. Bloodstock agent Donato Lanni, bidding from the back of the pavilion, saw off a determined Susan Montanye, who was doing her bidding on behalf of Twin Creeks Racing a few rows away while on the phone, to acquire the filly.
The filly was consigned by Gayle Woods on behalf of Eric Delvalle, who purchased the youngster for $67,000 at last year’s Keeneland September sale.
Out of Tizahit (Tiznow), the filly is a half to Come Dancing (Malibu Moon), who was second in last week’s GI Ogden Phipps S. She worked the co-bullet three-furlong time of :32 3/5 during last week’s under-tack preview.
Woods was visibly emotional while receiving congratulations after the transaction. “I’ve had a really bad year,” she said. “I haven’t sold anything well. So this was huge. This was a really good way to finish the season. She is a beautiful filly. She has so much class. I thought she’d make $400,000 or $500,000, maybe six if the right people got into it. And it happened.”
The filly was the lone horse Delvalle pinhooked this year and bettered his previous best sale result. The Panamanian sold Wolf Man Rocket (Mineshaft) for $550,000 at the 2014 OBS April sale.
“I broke my record,” Delvalle said. “It was $550,000 and now it’s $600,000.”
Of the filly’s appeal last fall, Delvalle said, “When I saw her, she looked very attractive and with good conformation. Come Dancing had won a stakes at Saratoga when I bought this one, but it wasn’t in the catalogue when I bought her. And then Come Dancing started to run better and better and better. So you need luck, of course.”
Delvalle added, “And I have to thank Gayle Woods. She did a tremendous job with her. This filly was born May 6, so Gayle decided to go to this sale instead of April. And she made the right decision.”
Lanni admitted the juvenile was an obvious choice.
“She obviously has a great pedigree and I think she came out here and worked a good three-eighths,” he said. “It was her first sale and I liked that they gave her the time to get here.”
Into Mischief Colt to Howg
Randy Howg, standing out back with trainer Robertino Diodoro and bloodstock agent Nick Hines, added a colt by Into Mischief to his racing stable when going to $325,000 to acquire hip 782 Friday at OBS. Hines signed the ticket on behalf of Howg/BG Stable/Big Tuff.
“Randy Howg and I went over and looked at him last night and we liked what we saw,” Diodoro said. “So we had ‘Sarge’ [Hines] on it first thing this morning to get him vetted. We saw him again this morning and we talked to a couple of people who saw him earlier in the year. Between watching the videos and when it was all said and done, Randy and I, and including Sarge, we thought he was the best horse in the sale.”
Diodoro trained 2017 GII Oaklawn H. winner Inside Straight (Super Saver) for Howg.
Hip 782, who worked a quarter-mile last week in :21 1/5, is out of graded placed Sea Level Drive (Malibu Moon). He was consigned by Halcyon Hammock Farm. Bred by Green Lantern Stables, the juvenile sold for $165,000 at the 2018 Keeneland January sale. Halcyon Hammock’s Hal Hatch purchased him for $285,000 at last year’s Keeneland September sale. The colt RNA’d for $375,000 after working a furlong in :10 2/5 at the Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream sale.
Diodoro admitted he was relieved to be able to purchase the colt.
“I was actually scared it was going to go a little higher than that. So we were happy to get him,” he said. “This was our ninth one we got [at the June sale] and we’re hoping to get a couple more before we head to the airport.”
Belladonna Adds Another Filly
David Ingordo has been shopping the 2-year-old sales this spring looking for fillies for the Belladonna Racing partnership and the bloodstock agent added another juvenile when bidding $290,000 for a daughter of Kitten’s Joy Friday in Ocala. Named Sunset Kitten, hip 721 was the first to go through the ring at the final session of the June sale and was consigned by Eddie Woods on behalf of breeders Ken and Sarah Ramsey.
“We’ve bought some fillies over the last three or four sales,” Ingordo said. “The first crop is all 2-year-olds that we’ve bought at the sales that we think can run and then have some residual value. The business model was to buy fillies, race them and then offer them back in the market, hopefully when they have black-type. We bought horses that hopefully are competitive at a high level. We know it’s a numbers game, so we bought a quantity of quality. Mostly proven sires with a mix of a couple first-season sires we liked.”
The filly is out of Reachfortheheavens (Pulpit) and is a full-sister to multiple Grade I winner Real Solution and graded-placed Ava’s Kitten. Both of those runners were trained by Chad Brown and the juvenile will be conditioned by former Brown assistant Cherie DeVaux.
“I love Kitten’s joy,” Ingordo said of the filly. “He is a top-class stallion, but he’s a little bit of an unsung hero commercially. And the cross clearly works. Cherie DeVaux is getting the horse and she has experience with both the full-siblings, so it made sense.”
Woods said of the juvenile, “She is a lovely filly. She’s a typical Kitten’s Joy and she has pedigree. We’ve had two or three out of the mare and they are all pretty straightforward horses. She was a classy filly to be around.”
“The Ramseys decided to move her on,” Woods continued. “They have plenty of the family.”
Belladonna Racing now numbers six juveniles.
“Of the Belladonna Racing people, 90% never owned a horse before and they are people of means that can go on and do this in a partnership or in a bigger scenario on their own,” Ingordo said of the partnership group. “We have a lot of young people who are in the 30 to early 40s bracket that have disposable income who want to do this.”
The partnership also includes a daughter of Bayern (hip 580) who was purchased for $350,000 at the Fasig Midlantic sale. A quartet of fillies were acquired at the OBS April sale: a Twirling Candy filly (hip 109) purchased for $335,000; a Curlin filly (hip 708) purchased for $250,000; a Lea filly (hip 890) purchased for $190,000; and a Munnings filly (hip 750) purchased for $90,000.
Stay Thirsty Filly an Emotional Score
The Hemingway Racing and Training Stables team shared some tears and hugs in the back walking ring after selling a filly by Stay Thirsty for $160,000 to Emerald Sales. The juvenile had been purchased by Lawrence Hobson for $1,500 as a weanling at the 2017 Keeneland November sale.
“They are really lovely people and new to the horse business,” Michelle Hemingway said of Hobson and his wife Lori Hurt. “They bought Johanne Everard’s old farm [Another Episode Farm]. [Hobson] wanted to get into the game and he was going to buy weanlings and sell yearlings. Unfortunately, just after he bought these horses, he was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
“I was lucky enough to be introduced to them through Taylor Made, which is who they bought a lot of horses from. And Taylor Made has just been so wonderful to me–they’ve made my business to be honest with you. So they were introduced to me and they asked if I could help them with these horses and they needed direction.”
Hobson, who was founder of Falcon L&L Transportation, passed away last October.
“When her husband passed, I became even more involved and I tried to be a good support system for her and do whatever we could,” Hemingway said. “No one deserved this result more than she did.”