Buyers 'More Than Ready' at OBS March

Sales-topping hip 318 | Judit Seipert

By Christie DeBernardis & Christina Bossinakis

OCALA, FL–The Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's grounds continued to buzz with activity during a second straight day of very strong trade as the March 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale concluded Wednesday. Bidding was fast and furious right from the start with the top horse of the day–and the sale as a whole–coming in the second juvenile through the ring, Hip 318, a colt by More Than Ready, who summoned $1.2 million from Kaleem Shah.

A daughter of American Pharoah (Hip 532) also achieved seven figures Wednesday, bringing $1 million from Donato Lanni, who was acting on behalf of Susan and Charlie Chu. That filly made a total of four seven-figure sellers, following a pair of Into Mischief colts during Tuesday's session (Hips 257 and 277). No juveniles hit the million-dollar mark during the 2021 or 2020 March sales. There were two to reach that bar in 2019, led by $2-million Chestertown (Tapit), who is a half-brother to Tuesday's $1-million Into Mischief (Hip 277).

“The first day was great and we followed up with another great day,” said OBS Director of Sales Tod Wojciechowski. “The gross was up for both days. As far as the total gross, we were a nine-iron from a record [gross for the sale]. We had four $1-million horses, two each day. It was a lot of fun.”

He continued, “The market is pretty hot right now. The momentum that we saw at the yearling sales last year has seemed to have carried over to this sale and, hopefully, can continue on through the spring.”

Freshman stallions continued to make their presence felt during Wednesday's session with Bolt d'Oro once again leading the pack thanks to a $900,000 colt (Hip 438) purchased by Japan's Hideyuki Mori. His Spendthrift barnmate Mor Spirit was not far behind with a $700,000 colt selling to Mori just one hip earlier (Hip 437).

Bolt d'Oro had a total of four juveniles bring over $400,000 through two days of selling. Other members of the freshman class to eclipse that mark, aside from Mor Spirit, were West Coast, Mendelssohn, Justify, Cloud Computing, Good Magic and Awesome Slew. The first three of those stallions each had two meet that bar and the latter three had one apiece.

“[Demand for young sires] is kind of standard at this sale,” said Ciaran Dunne of Wavertree Stables, which sold the topper and was second-leading seller overall. “It's hard for pinhookers to buy yearlings by proven stallions. They tend to go to the end-user racing people, so we've always just gravitated to the first-season sires. As the way breeding has gone, there are so many first-crop and the second- and third-crop stallions aren't as well represented at the sales, so you end up with a lot of first-crop stallions whether you like it or not.”

Mori was the leading buyer for both sessions and the sale overall, taking home seven juveniles for $8.55 million. Eddie Woods led all sellers with 15 horses summoning $3.351 million.

Through two days of selling, 371 horses changed hands for $49,498,000 with an average of $133,418 and median of $116,831. With 59 horses failing to sell, the RNA rate was 13.7%.

During last year's OBS March Sale, 326 juveniles had grossed $38,265,000 with an average of $117,377 and a median of $62,500. Seventy-one horses left the ring unsold for an RNA rate of 17.9%.

“The market is outstanding,” said Ocala Stud's David O'Farrell. “The trade is extremely competitive. I feel like there are a lot of good horses on the grounds and buying activity has been incredible. It is a very healthy, strong market right now.”

A total of 165 juveniles sold Wednesday for a gross of $22,111,000. The average was $130,834 and the median was $70,000. The RNA rate was 19.1%.

At the close of business last year, 145 horses had brought $18,437,000 with an average of $127,152 and median of $70,000. The buy-back rate was 21.6%. After post-sales were added, those numbers changed to 150 sold for $18,844,500 with an average of $125,630 and median of $68,500. This lowered the buy-back rate to 18.9%.

“The market is strong,” said trainer Larry Rivelli, who advised longtime client Carolyn Wilson on her purchase of a $570,000 colt from the first crop of West Coast. “You'd never know what was going on in the world if you come here. I've been doing it 20 years and you'd think by now I'd know better, but I was still surprised by today's results.”

Heavy rains and an unexpected tornado in the Ocala area forced some rescheduling of the breeze show and a delayed start to the opening session, but it did not damper the enthusiasm of buyers.

“The weather threw us some curve balls,” Wojciechowski said. “But fortunately, we were able to catch those curves. We were able to make up the difference pretty well and our rescheduling worked out pretty well. We gave the buyers extra time yesterday and they appreciated that. The weather cooperated with us, when we had to move where we moved to. For having to do it on the fly, it worked out pretty darn well.”

Sales action returns to the OBS ring Apr. 19 for their four-day OBS April 2-Year-Olds-in-Training Sale.

More Than Ready Colt Sparks Early Fireworks

It didn't take long at all for things to get fast and furious at OBS Wednesday with just the second horse through the ring, a colt by More Than Ready (Hip 318), summoning $1.2 million from Kaleem Shah.

“Ask me in a year from now if I made the right choice,” Shah said. “Simon [Callaghan] and Ben [McElroy] picked out this horse. It is easy to bid and write out the check in two minutes, but it takes a lifetime to get the money back. I hope we've got a good one, but we will see next year at this time.”

Bred by WinStar Farm, the bay colt is out of the unraced Indian Charlie mare Broad Spectrum, who is also the dam of MSP Broad Approval (Carpe Diem). Ciaran Dunne of Wavertree Stables picked up the colt for $120,000 at Keeneland September for one of his pinhooking partnerships. The bay breezed in a snappy :9 4/5 during the under-tack show.

“It's blind luck really,” Dunne said. “We were in the right place at the right time in September. He's been a good horse and everything just went to plan. Rarely does that happen.”

As for the price, the Irishman said, “That's a lot of money, but he was a lot of horse. I'm obviously biased, but I thought he was the best horse in here and he sold like it.”


Mori Back for 'Mor' Day 2 at OBSMAR

Hideyuki Mori, who punctuated Day 1 of the OBS March sale with the session's $1.1-million topper by Into Mischief, returned Wednesday with plenty left in his arsenal, landing consecutive pricey juveniles by freshman sires.

Kicking off Mori's Wednesday buying spree, Hip 437 realized a $700,000 final bid from the trainer, who did his bidding on the Mor Spirit colt from the back ring. With the OBS ticket runners patiently waiting for a signature on the Wavertree Stables offering, Mori came right back to secure Bolt d'Oro colt Hip 438 for $900,000. The latter was consigned by Top Line Sales LLC, who also sold a colt by the son of Medaglia d'Oro (Hip 291) for $600,000 on the first day of the sale. Both colts breezed an eighth of a mile in :9 4/5 during last week.

“I was very impressed by both of them physically,” said Mori, speaking through a translator. “They were both very nice movers and performed very well during their morning workouts.”

Asked about the pedigrees of his purchases, Mori added, “This sale [features] very fast horses, so I am not very concerned with the pedigrees.”

Mor Sprit's sire Eskenderya was sold to Japan for the 2018 breeding season. He has accounted for 79 individual winners to date.

Mori also signed for Hip 544, a filly by Shackleford, during Wednesday's session.

Of the Mor Spirit colt, Wavertree's Ciaran Dunne added, “It was a great result. It was a bit over what we expected, but it wasn't a surprise because he was very popular.”

Hip 437, purchased for $160,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July sale, represented a full-circle moment of sorts for Dunne, who also pinhooked the Texas-bred's sire. Himself an $85,000 FTKOCT purchase in 2014, Mor Spirit resold as a juvenile for $650,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Florida sale.

“We [sold] Mor Spirit so it was bit like shooting fish in a barrel,” said Dunne. “[Hip 437] was the best Mor Spirit that we thought we had seen up until that point.”

Out of Follow My Tail (Indian Charlie), the striking chestnut is a half to stakes winner Proofsinthepuddin (Marking) and stakes placed Red Raider (Roll Hennessy Roll). The 12-year-old dam is out of Group 3 scorer Freefourracing (French Deputy), the dam of stakes winners Speedway (Forest Wildcat).

“He's just beautiful,” said Dunne. “He's well framed and he showed himself very well here.”

Comparing both father and son, Dunne said, “They have the same body style. Both of them are kind of light and lean horses with a great hip and walk. Both have an easy, relaxed demeanor and loved to train. Mor Spirit was just so athletic and this colt is a lot the same way.”–Christina Bossinakis

Cool Million for American Pharoah Filly

A filly by American Pharoah made a splash when realizing a $1-million final bid from agent Donato Lanni at Wednesday's second session of the OBS March sale. Lani signed for the filly on behalf of Susan Chu, accompanied by Charlie and son Jerry, who did their bidding from the OBS press box. Offered as Hip 532, the filly was consigned by Jimbo & Torie Gladwell's Top Line Sales. The :10 flat breezer was bred by the Gladwells and E.V.S. Corp. The Apr. 30 foal will be sent to her sire's Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.

“I had a feeling she was going to bring a lot. She had everything,” extolled Lanni. “She is just a queen. I am very happy that we got her because that's the one I wanted the most. And she's such a sweet filly. I'm really pumped.”

“They've been lucky at the sale,” said Lani of the Chu family, who also plucked Eda (Munnings) for $550,000 out of this venue last year. Winner of her last four starts, all at the stakes level, Eda won the GI Starlet S. in December before returning to take the GIII Santa Ysabel S. earlier this month.

“They are really amazing people,” continued Lanni. “They do so much for horse racing that people are not aware of. They're so good for the industry. And they have been so lucky with fillies. These are really good people, and good things happen to good people.”

The filly is out of Just Parker (Forest Camp), a half-sister to SW and GSP Qahira (Cairo Prince) in addition to SWs Stormin' Lyon (Storm Boot) and Quick Flip (Speightstown), herself the dam of GSW and MGISP Following Sea (Runhappy).

Well received at stud from the onset, American Pharoah produced top quality turf horses earlier in his career, however, has provided another dimension to his sire profile this season with likes of recent top-level dirt winners GI Beholder Mile S. winner As Time Goes By and Triple Crown hopeful Forbidden Kingdom, victorious in Santa Anita's GII San Vicente S. and GII San Felipe S. in his two latest starts.

“Bob really liked her a lot,” said Lanni. “And if anybody knows what a good American Pharoah looks like, it would be him.”–Christina Bossinakis

Top Line Sales Lives Up to Its Name at OBS

Jimbo and Torie Gladwell's Top Line Sales had a banner sale at OBS March, topped by a $1-million daughter of American Pharoah (Hip 532), who they bred in partnership with E.V.S. Corp.

“This is the most we ever sold a homebred for and the second horse we ever sold for $1 million,” Torie Gladwell said after congratulating buyer Donato Lanni, who was acting on behalf of Susan Chu. “We hope she is as good as the first, [GISW] 'TDN Rising Star' Princess Noor (Not This Time) [$1.35m OBSAPR].”

The :10 flat breezer is out of a half-sister to Baoma Corp.'s SW & MGSP 'TDN Rising Star' Qahira (Cairo Prince) and stakes winners Stormin' Lyon (Storm Boot) and Quick Flip (Speightstown). The latter is the dam of GSW & MGISP 'TDN Rising Star' Following Sea (Runhappy).

“We definitely did not expect that at all,” Torie Gladwell said. “We had a lot of people on her, but the pedigree was a bit lighter, so we weren't sure what she would bring. She was a picture to look at, a stunning filly. She was big and strong with lots of scope. American Pharoah is heating up right now [with new Grade I winner As Time Goes By and GI Kentucky Derby prospect Forbidden Kingdom].”

Earlier in the session, the Gladwells sold a colt from the first crop of MGISW Bolt d'Oro (Hip 438) for $900,000 to Hideyuki Mori. Spendthrift Farm, which stands that stallion, was the underbidder. The conditioner purchased last year's March topper Clos de Mesnil (Practical Joke) from the Gladwells.

“We are just very excited for Mr. Mori to be able to buy a colt like that from us,” Jimbo Gladwell said. “He has the world in front of him. He is a just really, really top colt.”

Bred by Gabriel Duignan's Springhouse Farm, Hip 438 is a half-sibling to SW Foolish Humor (Distorted Humor). His dam Foolish Cause (Giant's Causeway) is a half to the late MGISW and sire Get Stormy (Stormy Atlantic). The :9 4/5 breezer was purchased by the Gladwells for $200,000 under the name Exclusive Equine Investments.

“We got him for a partnership out of September,” Jimbo Gladwell said. “The colt has been 100% straight forward all year. We couldn't be happier.”

The Gladwells sold another expensive son of Bolt d'Oro during Tuesday's session in Hip 291, who went to Kaleem Shah for $600,000. He also breezed in :9 4/5.

“That Bolt was a homebred for Mr. Loren Nichols,” Jimbo Gladwell said. “He let us train and sell the colt for him. It is good to have someone who breeds horses like that one.”

When asked for his thoughts on the initial crop of Spendthrift's Bolt d'Oro, Jimbo Gladwell said, “We are really excited about the Bolt d'Oros. He is one of my favorite freshman stallions right now. The one I sold [Tuesday] reminded me more of an Uncle Mo. I think that came from his momma [Beautissimo (Uncle Mo)]. But, the one [Wednesday] had a lot of Medaglia d'Oro in him. I think he is going to get a route of ground and he has plenty of speed. We are just thrilled to have one of that quality.” —@CDeBernardisTDN

West Coast Proves Popular in Ocala

GI Travers S. hero West Coast (Flatter) was another freshman stallion who proved quite popular at OBS March with a pair of juveniles eclipsing the $500,000 mark. The most expensive of the two was a $570,000 colt (Hip 548) from the Eddie Woods consignment that went to Carolyn Wilson, who did her bidding alongside trainer Larry Rivelli.

“We bid on a couple of horses earlier. He was on our top five, but it is hard to wait around and see if you get one or you don't,” Rivelli said. “We were fortunate enough to be in the running. We are happy to get him. He is a nice colt.”

When asked his impressions of West Coast's first crop, Rivelli said, “They look like they will run a route of ground, which is good. They are light on their feet and have athletic builds. They are nicely put together and have been well received.”

Bred by Woodford Thoroughbreds, the bay is out of SP Kimono (Bernardini) and is a half to SW Keke Kimono (Laoban). Picked up Woods's Quarter Pole Enterprises for $155,000 at FTKJUL, he breezed in :21 flat.

West Coast is getting a really nice horse,” Woods said. “They have great shape to them; they are quick; and they are good, forceful horses. They train pretty aggressively and they appear to be really sound.”

A bit earlier in the day a filly by the Lane's End stallion (Hip 529) brought $525,000 from the partnership of WinStar's Maverick Racing and Siena Farm.

“They look like they have been very well received,” said Tristan de Meric of de Meric Sales, which consigned the :10 flat breezer. “We have seven of them on the farm and they are all training really well. I think the sires is going to be a good one.” —@CDeBernardisTDN

West Coast Filly Tops de Meric Draft at $525K

A filly by freshman sire West Coast headed the de Meric Sales draft during Wednesday's final session of the OBS March sale. Maverick Racing and Siena Farms LLC purchased the Florida-bred, offered as Hip 529. A $135,000 purchase out of the FTK July sale, the dark bay registered a :10 flat work during last Sunday's breeze show.

“[The price] exceeded our expectations, but we always loved this filly,” admitted Tristan de Meric. “The way she looked going over and the way the market was playing, it ended up making sense what she brought.”

He continued, “[WinStar Farm's] David Hanley had come to the farm and saw her training a couple of days over the winter. She is a filly that catches the eye. She looked good at the farm, on the track and really showed up here. She's a beautiful filly and we think the world of her. We are very happy she is going where she is.”

The filly is out of unplaced Juliamarie (Mizzen Mast), a daughter of MGSP De Aar (Gone West), also responsible for multiple graded stakes scorer and multiple Grade I-placed Willcox Inn (Harlan's Holiday) and stakes-placed Francisca (Mizzen Mast). This represents the family of dual Grade I winning turf horse Cetewayo.

“She's been a very easy filly to get ready for this sale. She's always been an overachiever and we think she'll be a really nice filly down the road.”

Asked about how the filly has developed since her purchase last season, de Meric explained, “She looked like this in July, just a little bit smaller. She just kept going the right way. She didn't grow in stages like some horses do, she just stayed balanced and precocious looking. It's impressive how when you stand into her, how big and balanced she is until you walk into her. She's just gotten better and better.”

Freshman sire West Coast, standing at Lane's End, was also represented by Hip 548, who brought $570,000 Wednesday.

The consignment's March offering also included Hip 26 (Tapit, $350,000), Hip 46 (Upstart, $425,000), Hip 191 (Practical Joke, $385,000), Hip 385 (Good Magic, $360,000), and Hip 425 (Nyquist, $300,000).

“I think it was a good sale, a really great market,” concluded de Meric. “We got mostly everything we led through the ring sold, it ended up being 100% with a couple of post sales. We sold everything we led up here and that means it was a good market.–Christina Bossinakis

Spendthrift Freshmen Star at OBS

A trio of first-crop stallions from Spendthrift Farm put on quite a show over the two-day OBS March sale. MGISW Bolt d'Oro topped the group, which also included GI Met Mile winner Mor Spirit and GI Preakness S. victor Cloud Computing.

“It is a credit to our breeders,” said Spendthrift's Ned Toffey. “Some of these horses were ones not everyone was eager to give a shot to, but our breeders have given us a great support. Hopefully now everyone will be supported. These are three very different sire lines, so we are trying to help keep things genetically diverse. This is a great game when things can work for breeders of all levels and that has always been important to us.”

A two-time Grade I winner as a 2-year-old, Bolt d'Oro also captured the GII San Felipe S. at three and was second to Justify in that year's GI Santa Anita Derby. His first crop was well received at the yearling sales, including a $1.4-million half-brother to Hall of Famer Rachel Alexandra. The Bolt d'Oros proved equally popular at OBS this week with seven juveniles bringing over $250,000, headlined by a $900,000 colt (Hip 438) purchased by Hideyuki Mori with Spendthrift as the underbidder. Bolt d'Oro stood his first season at $25,000 and currently is listed for a fee of $20,000.

“He was a really exciting horse when we were able to secure him,” said Toffey. “Mick Ruis is our partner on him and he has provided great support. Bolt was tremendously talented and well bred, so he was a really exciting horse to bring to stud. His offspring have looked the part at every stage. They breezed the part and have shown they are extremely athletic. It is exactly what we hoped for when we bought him, but you never know if it will turn out like you hope. We couldn't be happier with the results so far. He has all kinds of potential.”

Donato Lanni went to $650,000 to secure Mor Spirit from the Wavertree consignment for Michael Lund Petersen at the 2015 FTFMAR sale and one of his sons (Hip 437), hailing from the same consignment, brought $700,000 from Mori at OBS Wednesday. Winner of the GI Los Alamitos Futurity S. in 2015, Mor Spirit romped in the GI Met Mile two years later. His initial crop was bred on a $10,000 fee and he currently stands for half that price.

“Mor Spirit is a beautiful animal.” Toffey said. “He is a son of Eskendereya, who is probably a horse that left the country a little too quickly and was a tremendous talent himself. Mor Spirit was also a tremendous athlete. We appreciate the support and faith our breeders have shown in us. Being by Eskendereya, it might have slowed some people down, but he was well supported. That is half the battle. We saw very athletic foals right away with him and you are seeing that now too. They are breezing very impressively and people like them. He is a horse I don't think a lot of farms wanted to stand, but he the type of horse that if you take a shot on him, you could be well rewarded.”

Cloud Computing, a member of his sire Maclean's Music's first crop, captured the 2017 Preakness for trainer Chad Brown. He put in a strong showing at this sale with four of his offspring hitting six figures, including a $560,000 colt (Hip 190). His introductory fee was $7,500 and he currently stands for $5,000.

“Cloud Computing is a Preakness winner and he started at a lower price point [than most Classic winners],” Toffey said. “He has shown the talent to perform at the very top of our sport and is a beautiful animal. It has been a tremendous sire line. We have loved the foals and the yearlings. Now people are seeing just how athletic they are. A lot of the breeze analysis people thought Tuesday's Cloud Computing [Hip 190] was the best breeze in the sale. It is great to see the demand and all of the support.” —@CDeBernardisTDN

Hometown Stallions Hold Their Own at OBS

Three stallions that stand just 5 1/2 miles away from the OBS sales grounds at the O'Farrell family's Ocala Stud–Adios Charlie, Girvin and Awesome Slew–made sure the local contingent was well represented at the March Sale.

Adios Charlie is a stalwart on the Florida stallion ranks and one of the kingpins of Ocala Stud. One of his daughters (Hip 213) summoned $410,000 Tuesday from West Point and Talla Racing after breezing in a blazing fast :20 2/5, the fastest quarter-mile time of the sale. Bred by William Terrell and Frank De Savino, she is out of MSW Travelator (A.P. Jet).

“Adios Charlie is kind of our proven horse,” David O'Farrell said. “He has been very good to us. He has had to navigate a few small crops, but he gets runners. He has been more than useful.”

He continued, “That filly worked terrific and is a beautiful filly. She was born and raised at the farm and is just exceptional.”

Girvin and Awesome Slew are the new kids on the block at Ocala Stud with their first runners coming this spring. The O'Farrells consigned a homebred filly by GI Haskell S. winner Girvin (Hip 198), who brought $240,000 from One Up Bloodstock during the opening session after working in :20 4/5. They also offered a homebred son of MGSW & MGISP Awesome Slew (Hip 456) Wednesday, who sold to Klaravich Stable for $400,000 after also breezing in a snappy :20 4/5.

“We are really fortunate to have a couple first-year sires that are doing well in Awesome Slew and Girvin,” Daivd O'Farrell said. “Girvin and Awesome Slew were both really good racehorses and have good pedigrees. Girvin has one of the liveliest pedigrees going right now. Awesome Slew has a ton of depth to his pedigree. Their offspring are sound horses with really good temperaments. They have a lot athleticism and everything you'd like to see. It's always exciting to showcase them a little bit and so far it is working out.”

The horseman added, “We brought a nice group of horses and they did really well. They just thrived over here. We were really fortunate to be rewarded for them.” —@CDeBernardisTDN

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