By Brian DiDonato & Steve Sherack
OCALA, FL– Heated competition for the perceived top offerings continued to be the trend as the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company’s two-day March Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale kicked off Tuesday.
Topping the session was hip 33, a New York-bred Tapit colt out of MGISW Artemis Agrotera (Roman Ruler). Consigned by Becky Thomas’s Sequel Bloodstock on behalf of breeders Chester and Mary Broman, the :10 1/5 breezer was purchased by West Point Thoroughbreds, Rob Masiello and Siena Farm for an OBS March record $2 million. The Bromans will retain a one-third interest in the colt.
The hefty price tag was the second-most ever paid at an OBS sale behind only a $2.45-million Tiznow colt who sold at the 2017 April sale.
“I thought it was a very good day,” said OBS director of sales Tod Wojciechowski. “There were some very nice horses up today and the consignors were well-rewarded for those horses… Whether a horse is ready early [for the March sale], needs more time or even waits until June, if you bring a quality horse to market, people will reward you for it, no matter what sale.”
With subsequent post-sale transactions yet to be factored into the statistics, a total of $22,134,000 of trade was done Tuesday at an average of $153,708 and a median of $83,500. The RNA rate for the session was 29.8%–significantly lower than it was 12 months ago when it was 38.4% at the conclusion of the first session before post-sale transactions brought it down to 30.3%.
Ten horses met or exceeded the $500,000 threshold last year for the auction’s first session–nine hit that mark this time around. There were two million-dollar lots Tuesday, but none at the 2018 March sale.
“Our gross was up quite a bit, but yet our average was slightly under last year’s ($157,574) and our median was slightly under last year’s ($95,000),” Wojciechowski said. “What that tells me is, not only were the expensive horses moving, but the lesser-priced horses were also selling.”
One noteworthy surprise among the top buyers was the emergence of HRH Prince Sultan Bin Mishal Al Saud, who spent $1.79 million on four juveniles. Japanese interests also made their presence felt.
“His Royal Highness was certainly very active today; the Japanese were very active–a number of groups from Japan,” said Wojciechowski. “We knew they were here, obviously, but it was nice to see them active and able to find horses that they liked.”
The sale’s second session begins Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. Visit www.obssales.com for more information.
Tapit Colt to Carry West Point Black and Gold
The stunning, new-look OBS sales pavilion was buzzing less than an hour into the two-day March 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale as a striking son of leading sire Tapit out of two-time Grade I winner Artemis Agrotera (Roman Ruler) brought a sale-record $2 million.
West Point Thoroughbred’s frontman Terry Finley brought home the top prize and signed the ticket out back. The partnership will include longtime West Point supporter Rob Masiello, as well as Siena Farm. The colt’s breeder Chester Broman will stay in for a third, too. Lane’s End Bloodstock served as agent for the group.
“I don’t want to sound like all these other bloodstock agents or buyers around here and say, ‘Oh, he was the best horse in the sale,'” Finley, a soon-to-be first-time grandfather, said with a smile out back. “I hope he was the best horse in the sale, but time will tell. That’s the most expensive horse we’ve ever bought. But we felt good the whole time.”
Finley continued, “We didn’t think that we’d have to give that much money. But, man, we were really happy when that hammer fell. With Chester Broman staying in for a third, that really gave us a lot of confidence. The colt came out of a good program with Becky Thomas. We’re ready to rock and roll.”
“What is really awesome about the Tapit colt is that Mr. Broman at the last minute–he really likes West Point and was really complimentary–is staying in as a partner and Steve Asmussen will be training the horse,” Thomas said. “That part is such a win-win. I’ve trained for Mr. Broman for so long. I had Artemis Agrotera–she was close to 16.3 and was massively big. This colt comes in and he’s a big gray version of her. He’s not a typical Tapit. He’s got a lot of substance. He was just one from the very beginning that I took out of company, even galloping in November, because he was way too forward. He’ll be a later 2-year-old–not late though–because he’s very quick.”
As for the colt’s breeze at the under-tack show, Finley said, “At the sixteenth pole, he swapped his leads and he went back to his right and just leveled out and did it the right way. When I looked down at the pedigree and saw he was a Tapit out of a Grade I winner, I said, ‘Wow.’ I’ve been thinking about this colt all week.”
West Point, Masiello and Siena Farm teamed up last August to purchase the $1.35-million sale-topping Medaglia d’Oro colt at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Yearling Sale.
Bloodstock agent Ben McElroy and trainer Simon Callaghan, who did their bidding standing by the ramp inside the pavilion, were underbidder. –@SteveSherackTDN
Bromans Stay in on Topper, but Estate Planning Begins
The OBS March record-setting topper is a product of longtime prominent owner and breeders Chester and Mary Broman’s New York-bred program.
Hip 33, a Feb. 9 foal, is the first produce from Artemis Agrotera, who carried the Broman’s green-and-white silks to wins in the 2013 GI Frizette S. and 2014 GI Ballerina S. The Bromans also owned and bred his second dam SW & MGSP Indy Glory (A.P. Indy), a full-sister to GI Donn H. winner Stephen Got Even. Artemis Agrotera is a half-brother to SP Time Squared (Fusaichi Pegasus), who topped the 2006 Keeneland April 2-Year-Old Sale at $1.05 million.
“It was great what happened,” Broman said after taking in the action at the back ring. “We were hoping for over a million. Hopefully, he goes on and becomes a stallion.”
While the Bromans did stay in for a third of the topper, the couple were very active sellers at OBS March Tuesday. As part of the Bromans estate planning, the couple will be sending their entire 2-year-old crop through the ring this spring. Becky Thomas’s Sequel Bloodstock consigned the Tapit colt.
“I’m getting old,” Broman simply said of his decision to sell. “I’ve got the farm and we still breed mares. They all trained well and should sell for what we expected.”
Thomas added, “Because it’s his estate planning–this is not a fire sale–but every 2-year-old of Mr. Broman’s will go through the ring. We had a couple that we didn’t get sold which he will go on to race in partnerships and that actually makes me really happy because he enjoys racing very much.”
During Tuesday’s session, the Bromans also sold: Hip 45, a $220,000 Hard Spun filly (purchased by Charles H. Boden, agent for Colts Neck Stables LLC); and Hip 206, a $425,000 Uncle Mo filly (purchased by John Kimmel, agent).
The Bromans have campaigned standouts such as GI Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint upsetter Bar of Gold (Medaglia d’Oro) and GI Florida Derby winner Friends Lake (A.P. Indy).
The couple operate Chestertown Farm and have been racing and breeding since the 1990s. Broman is owner, president and CEO of general contractor Clifford Broman and Son in New York.
Another Flashy Purchase for Larry Best
A timely update and powerful :21 1/5 breeze led to the second seven-figure 2-year-old of the day at OBS March.
A determined Larry Best of OXO Equine LLC–who did his bidding in front of the ramp inside the pavilion–fought off all challengers to land a Pioneerof the Nile colt for $1.2 million.
Hip 194 is out of the multiple stakes placed Golden Artemis (Malibu Moon), who is the dam of My Conquestadory (Artie Schiller), heroine of the GI Darley Alcibiades S. The latter has also produced the very promising 3-year-old colt Bourbon War (Tapit), who came flying home to complete the exacta in the GII Xpressbet Fountain of Youth S. at Gulfstream Park earlier this month. Golden Artemis herself brought $1 million from Denali Stud, agent, at the 2013 FTKNOV Sale before RNA’ing for $1.15 million at the 2015 KEENOV Sale.
“He had a great work,” Best said after signing the slip on the Pioneerof the Nile colt. “I like the size of him. He’s an Apr. 30 foal–when he grows up, he’s going to be about the right size. He’s got a lot of speed and his gallop-out was strong. I love the dam. I looked at a Medaglia d’Oro colt out of her [unraced Jafar, $185,000 KEESEP yearling] some years ago. He was really fast and got hurt. But I never forgot the strength of the dam.”
Did the Bourbon War update play a role at all?
“Yes it did,” Best replied. “I was going to $800,000 until they reminded me of Bourbon War. He’s an awesome horse. That dam side is just very strong and Pioneerof the Nile speaks for itself.”
Best has certainly hit the ground running with his high-profile auction purchases in a short period of time, including runaway GII Best Pal S. winner and last weekend’s GIII Gotham S. third Instagrand (Into Mischief) ($1.2-million Fasig-Tipton Florida juvenile), GIII Lecomte S. winner and GI Los Alamitos Cash Call Futurity runner-up Instilled Regard (Arch) ($1.05-million OBS March juvenile), MGISP Rowayton (Into Mischief) ($320,000 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga yearling) and recent GIII Herecomesthebride S. Cambier Parc (Medaglia d’Oro) ($1.25-million KEESEP yearling), who is unbeaten on grass.
The Pioneerof the Nile colt was the lone purchase by Best Tuesday. Should we expect to see more fireworks going forward from him this 2-year-old sales season?
“As long as I’m still having fun,” he replied.
Hip 194, bred in Kentucky by Dattt Farm, sold post-RNA at Keeneland September for $175,000 to Sonny Stokes, Jr. and his son-in-law and former Quarter Horse jockey Leroy McClurge. He was consigned to OBS March by Hoby and Layna Kight, Agent I. This same group teamed up to sell flashy debut winner Bano Solo (Goldencents) for $400,000 at last year’s OBS March Sale.
“He’s a really nice horse,” said Kight back at Barn 5 as Best returned to take a closer look at his new purchase. “And I knew everybody liked him–he vetted well. But you just never know.”
Kight continued, “He did all the right stuff. He got big, he got stretch, we got the update, and he worked really well. He just did everything you want a horse to do at a breeze show. He did good over here, he just thrived under pressure–that’s the sign of a good horse.” –@SteveSherackTDN
Phoenix Snags Well-Related Bernardini Colt
Amer Abdulaziz’s Phoenix Thoroghbreds was a major player at the OBS March sale in its two previous renewals, and was back at it Tuesday. By far the priciest of the group’s three acquisitions was hip 240, a Bernardini colt out of Canadian champion grass mare Inish Glora (Regal Classic) who cost $825,000. The :9 4/5 breezer was consigned to the sale by Raul Reyes’s King’s Equine, Agent IX.
“Obviously, he’s fast–fast and beautiful,” said Tom Ludt, Phoenix’s head of U.S. operations. “I know who I was bidding against and I was bidding against the right guys. It’s expensive right now, but he’s a really good colt. He galloped out great. That’s what we’re looking for. Now we just need to get him to do it over a little bit longer distance.”
Ludt was joined by Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen during the bidding process and said that hip 240 would be heading to Asmussen’s barn.
The Apr. 6 foal is also a half to Woodbine Oaks heroine Roan Inish (Elusive Quality) and GSP In Equality (Quality Road).
“The good ones are expensive,” Ludt said. “They’re all on the same horses, so it’s tough. You’ve just got to be willing to put up the money and hope you got the right one.”
Hip 240 was a $275,000 KEESEP yearling buy by Scott and Evan Dilworth, and Reyes insisted that Scott Dilworth deserved most of the credit.
“He picked him out, and he did a very good job,” Reyes said. “All I did was polish the apple–he did the hard part.”
As for what caught his eye at Keeneland, Dilworth said, “He was just a big, nice, scopey horse. He just had a lot of definition to him and we liked him a lot.”
He added, “I want to thank Raul–he did a tremendous job preparing this colt and getting him ready for the sale. He always does a great job, and John Bassett helped me pick this colt out–he deserves credit also.” –@BDiDonatoTDN
Saudi Arabian Prince Building U.S. Stable
HRH Prince Sultan Bin Mishal Al Saud made a big splash at OBS March Tuesday, purchasing five juveniles for $1.89 million, led by a $650,000 daughter of Speightstown.
“He’s just starting to develop a nice stable in the U.S.,” Narvick International’s Emmanuel de Seroux said after signing the ticket on the Speightstown filly out back. “In the U.S., I believe this will be his first group of horses. We stretched for her–we thought that was a big price. We didn’t expect to have to pay that much, but she’s a beautiful filly, a beautiful mover and a nice type with pedigree. She’s a real nice filly.”
Hip 92, consigned by Niall Brennan Stables, Agent XI, zipped through an eighth in :10 at the breeze show. Produced by MGSP C J’s Leelee (Mizzen Mast), the Mar. 11 foal is a half-sister to the stakes-placed C J’s Awesome (Awesome Again). Her 3-year-old half-sister It Justhitthe Wire (Bernardini), a runaway maiden winner for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin at Gulfstream in late January, brought $410,000 from Leonard Green at last year’s OBS April Sale. C J’s Leelee is a half-sister to GISW and young sire Capo Bastone (Street Boss). Hip 92 was bred in Kentucky by Carl Gessler, Jr. and Danny Wiginton.
No decision has been made for a trainer yet for the Speightstown filly.
“She’s going to go to a farm now to relax and then we’ll see what happens,” de Seroux said. “It depends on what Prince Sultan decides.”
“She’s a gorgeous type,” de Seroux said. “She’s beautiful–she’s all class, she’s a wonderful mover and we love American Pharoah. I think she has a fantastic future… Based on the market, I thought that would have to be more or less what we would have to pay for her. Hopefully, she’s well worth it.”
Drefong Half-Sister Heading to Japan
Katsumi Yoshida’s Northern Farm went to $675,000–the highest price for a filly at OBS March Tuesday–to land a Candy Ride (Arg) half-sister to U.S. champion sprinter Drefong (Gio Ponti).
The 2016 GI Breeders’ Cup Sprint hero was retired to stud for the 2018 season to stand at Teruya Yoshida’s Shadai Stallion Station in Hokkaido, Japan.
“She was really good, and when we looked at her black-type page, Drefong’s name was on it. We are very excited to buy her,” Northern Farm Shigaraki Manager Yasuhiro Matsumoto said. “She was really good looking and her walk was very nice. We were here for her workout and her form was very good. We’re going to bring her back to Japan and hope that she will have a good racing career.”
Matsumoto added, “The early reception to Drefong has been very nice.”
The Candy Ride filly was the first of several high-profile pinhooks this spring by owner/breeder/trainer Carlo Vaccarezza (TDN Feature), who bought her for $300,000 as a KEESEP yearling. Vaccarezza signed for 11 head for a total of $1.88 million ($170,909 average) at last year’s Keeneland September Sale, and seven youngsters for a total of $1.675 million ($239,286) at Fasig-Tipton Saratoga.
Hip 147, consigned by Top Line Sales LLC, Agent II, zipped through an eighth in :10 at the breeze show. She was bred in Kentucky by Machmer Hall, and Carrie and Craig Brogden. Machmer Hall purchased her unraced dam Eltimaas, a half-sister to champion 2-year-old colt Action This Day (Kris S.), for $77,000 at the 2013 KEENOV Sale.
“She’s been 100% ever since we had her,” Top Line’s Tori Gladwell said. “Carlo Vaccarezza bought her and like 17 other horses. It’s a great start to the year and we’re really excited about the rest of the horses we have for him.”
Japanese interests have had success with Top Line-consigned juveniles in the past, including MGSW Copano Kicking (Spring At Last), a $100,000 graduate of the 2017 Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream Sale.
Callaghan, McElroy Get Big Breezer
Hip 81 had reportedly been popular back at the barn after a co-quickest :9 4/5 move during Thursday’s first under-tack session, and the money showed up for him in the ring as well, with trainer Simon Callaghan and agent Ben McElroy seeing off all challengers to take home the big dark bay son of Justin Phillip for $550,000.
A $70,000 Fasig-Tipton October yearling purchase by E J Stable, the Mar. 25 foal was consigned by Hoppel’s Horse & Cattle Co., Inc., Agent I. Patrick Hoppel’s operation had a productive March sale last year as well, highlighted by a $32,000 to $675,000 pinhook score with a Real Solution colt.
“It was a key part of it–for me, it was the best breeze of the day; a tremendous gallop-out; and the physical matched the breeze when we went back to see him at the barn,” McElroy said. “He was picked out by a good judge at the yearling sale, and he was a 10-out-of-10 physical. There was nothing not to like… He was just a lovely horse from a nice Phipps family.”
Callaghan and McElroy declined to disclose on whose behalf they were bidding, but McElroy signed the ticket as KSI, Ben McElroy, Agent. Callaghan trains the likes of brilliant MGISW filly Bellafina (Quality Road) on behalf of Kaleem Shah.
Hip 81 is a grandson of GISW Oh What a Windfall (Seeking the Gold) from the family of Grade I winners Heavenly Prize, Good Reward, Dancing Spree, Furlough, Fantastic Find, et al.
Another Pinhook Score for Pokoik & Contessa
Owner Lee Pokoik and trainer Gary Contessa have racked up a number of nice pinhook scores over the years, and took another hefty profit Tuesday when hip 169 sold to Narvick International’s Emmanuel de Seroux on behalf of HRH Prince Sultan Bin Mishal Al Saud for $600,000. The filly, from the highly regarded first crop of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, was a $350,000 Fasig-Tipton November weanling acquisition and was withdrawn from last August’s Fasig Saratoga yearling sale to be given more time to develop. Turned over to Nick de Meric–who has worked with Pokoik’s youngsters for decades–the daughter of stakes-winning juvenile Flattermewithroses (Flatter) covered a quarter in :20 4/5.
“It’s bittersweet–I loved her, and I would’ve been really thrilled to keep her and have her in my barn and win the [GI] Spinaway again this year, but for that kind of money you’ve got to sell,” Contessa said. “That’s our game–we buy them, and sell them. But it’s a bittersweet sale because we think the world of her.”
Pokoik and Contessa won last year’s Spinaway with Sippican Harbor (Orb), who they purchased for $260,000 at the 2017 Saratoga sale, but bought back here 12 months ago for $110,000. They also sold eventual ‘TDN Rising Star’ Tijori (Will Take Charge)–who was also a $260,000 Saratoga buy–for $525,000 at this auction last term.
For more on Contessa and Pokoik’s past pinhook successes, see OBS March Should be Win-Win for Contessa from TDN‘s 2014 March Sale coverage.
As for the price paid for hip 169 Tuesday, Contessa said, “That’s what it took to let go of her–we were thinking $550,000ish, so once we hit that number, I knew that, ‘Well, I get to watch her.’ I’ll probably be sitting on my couch one day watching her win a big race.”
He added, “This one’s a nice one–she might be the best one we’ve ever sold.” –@BDiDonatoTDN
Thomas Strikes Early for No Nay Never Filly
Trainer Jonathan Thomas went to $525,000 on behalf of an undisclosed client early in Tuesday’s OBS March session to take home a filly from the second crop of Europe’s leading freshman sire No Nay Never (Ire) (click for No Nay Never: A Transatlantic Success Story). Purchased for €150,000 by Rabbah Bloodstock at last year’s Goffs Orby sale, the striking bay was consigned to the sale by Ciaran Dunne’s Wavertree Stables as hip 24. She breezed an eighth in a co-quickest :9 4/5 during Thursday’s first breeze show. ThoroStride Video.
“She was a lovely filly,” Thomas said. “We expected her to bring a little more–I’m not saying we would’ve gone for her at that–but, at that price, with what she did, it was definitely a worthwhile purchase.”
In addition to being by a buzz stallion in the form of 2013 G1 Darley Prix Morny hero, hip 24 boasts a page full of European black-type. Her winning dam is a full-sister to G1 Prix Marcel Boussac heroine Amonita (GB) (Anabaa). The Feb. 4 foal was bred in Ireland by Minch & Fullbury Bloodstock.
“Scat Daddy has been an amazing influence on the breed, and certainly No Nay Never has gotten off to a great start,” Thomas said. “The marketplace has become very international. A filly like her, with that kind of pedigree, no matter where she sells, she’s going to be an attractive specimen.”
He added, “The breeze was beautiful. She had great mechanics. I thought she was a very, very good specimen on the end of the shank and obviously she has the sort of pedigree where if she can run, she has a lot of allure.” –@BDiDonatoTDN
Carlisle ‘Strong’ on Quick-Breezing Filly
Up-and-coming bloodstock agent Lauren Carlisle signed the biggest ticket of her career Tuesday to secure hip 134 for $425,000 on behalf of Houston, Texas-based Greg Hoffman’s Hoffman Family Stables. The filly from the first crop of GISW Wicked Strong was consigned to the sale by Mayberry Farm, Agent V and earned the co-bullet for a :9 4/5 furlong during the first under-tack preview. She’ll be trained by Tom Amoss.
“I loved her–she had one of the best breezes of the day,” Carlisle said. “Her video was very impressive, she had a good mind at the barn, and physically there was not much wrong with her. Hopefully she proves it all right.”
While the jury is still out on Wicked Strong, and this crowded freshman sire crop as a whole, Carlisle said she’s been impressed with the Spendthrift stallion’s progeny thus far.
“He had good breezes; his horses showed up here,” she said. “I think he’s got every chance to do well. Time will tell.”
Hip 134 was a $16,000 KEENOV weanling and $30,000 OBSOCT yearling. She’s a half to the stakes-placed Petecarol (Not For Love).
“This is a good group of horses in my opinion,” the 28-year-old said, noting that she was also the underbidder on the $550,000 Justin Phillip colt. “There are plenty to be bought, but for the ones you really want, obviously like with any sale, I think you have to be aggressive. I also think with the increased purses that Churchill Downs recently announced and with other increases around the country, it’s going to be more competitive to buy horses because people think they can potentially make their money back quicker.” –@BDiDonatoTDN