By Brian DiDonato
OCALA, FL–The Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's two-day March Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training concluded Wednesday with dips in average and median but a significantly improved RNA rate that hinted at increased strength in the middle market and further adjustments made by both buyers in sellers since the auction was opened up and expanded in 2015.
Wednesday's session–topped by a $900,000 son of Medaglia d'Oro purchased by D.J. Stable and Cash Is King from King's Equine–saw 147 juveniles change hands for gross receipts of $21,291,000 at an average of $144,837 and $95,000 median. The RNA rate was 25.4%.
The cumulative gross was $44,422,500 on 309 sold versus a gross of $42,275,000 on 257 transactions in 2018.
“I think there was activity at all levels,” said OBS Director of Sales Tod Wojciechowski. “We sold more horses than we sold last year, and while the average and median both dipped a little bit, with us selling about 50 more horses than we did last year, 30 of those horses were less than or equal to $50,000.”
He continued, “In 2018, we sold 87 horses for equal to or less than $50,000 and we sold 117 this year [at that level]. We were happy to see that–horses got sold at all levels. On the other end, we had two horses that brought over $800,000 and this year we had six, so there was growth on both ends. We felt really good about that.”
Year-to-year comparisons are somewhat inexact due to last year's statistics factoring in post-sale transactions further past the conclusion of the sale and the 2019 stats subject to change for the same reason, but the cumulative average and median were both down for 2019. A large factor in the dips, however, was a much-improved clearance rate. Based on current figures, the average dropped 12.6% to $143,762 from $164,494 and the median dipped 23.8% from $105,000 to $80,000, but the RNA rate this time around was just 23.1% compared to 29.2% 12 months ago and can only drop further after additional post-sale transactions are recorded.
“More and more, I think [the March sale] continues to gain momentum and people understand that there's something for everyone here in March from the old [select] format to the new format,” Wojciechowski said. “That has been a little bit of a learning curve, but it seems like everyone's starting to get on board with it.”
West Point Thoroughbreds secured both the sale's top priced colt–a $2-million son of Tapit (consigned by Sequel Bloodstock, agent for Chester & Mary Broman)–and filly, a $850,000 daughter of freshman sire The Big Beast (consigned by Ocala Stud). Newcomer HRH Prince Sultan Bin Mishal Al Saud was the sale's leading buyer, purchasing eight head for a total of $3.05 million, topped by a $650,000 Speightstown filly.
Eddie Woods led all consignors with 18 horses sold for gross receipts of $4.317 million. Kings Equine checked in second with 10 horses sold for a total of $3.625 million.
The de Meric Sales consignment was also among the leaders with 22 juveniles sold for a total of $3.215 million, including a $600,000 American Pharoah filly and a $470,000 Fast Anna filly.
“Kicking off the season is never the easiest thing to do because everybody is aware that there's a deep pool of horses to follow these, but I would have to describe this as a very healthy market,” consignor Nick de Meric said upon the conclusion of the sale back at Barn 12. “There's a lot of demand for the elite offerings and I was encouraged that there seems to be a better middle market than we sometimes dare expect at this sale. There was a pretty healthy aftermarket, too. Even when horses didn't get done in the ring, there were plenty getting done afterwards. At the end of the day, we've got to call it a big success.”
“As for his own consignment, de Meric added, “We were very blessed. The horses showed up and performed well. We are leaving here feeling very good about ourselves.”
This crop of freshman sires has been particularly buzzed about, and the money came for progeny by a diverse group of them at OBS March. First-crop stallions with at least one juvenile to sell for $200,000 or more included The Big Beast, Palace Malice, American Pharoah, Tapiture, Fast Anna, Commissioner, Wicked Strong, Karakontie (Jpn), Constitution, Majestic City, Carpe Diem and Bayern.
At last year's sale, 17 horses brought $500,000 or more–14 reached that plateau in 2019. Three horses this year sold for more than last term's $875,000 topper.
“Additionally, it's worth pointing out that of the two highest-priced horses–the $2-million horse went in :10 1/5, which was 3/5 off of the fastest breeze of the sale; and the $1.2-million horse went in :21 1/5, which was 4/5 off the fastest of the sale,” Wojciechowski said. “Buyers can certainly discern between fast times and quality and pedigree.”
Wojciechowski has a positive outlook heading into the remainder of 2-year-old sales season: “There's certainly still some polarity in the market, but we felt good about seeing a little bit less of that here. We hope that continues on into [the April Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training Apr. 23-26] and again those horses will cover the gamut from what's perceived to be the very highest to all other levels. We feel good about it, and I think it's a good start for our season.”
Jaywalk Partners Go for Gold…
With last year's champion 2-year-old filly Jaywalk (Cross Traffic) aiming for a start in Keeneland's GI Central Bank Ashland S. Apr. 6, partners D.J. Stable and Cash Is King went to a session-topping $900,000 for a son of Medaglia d'Oro at OBS March Wednesday.
“The price was a little hefty–we were hoping to get him for a lot cheaper–but we really liked the colt,” said John Servis, who also trains the aforementioned GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies heroine for the duo, after signing the slip. “He was one of the top horses on our list and we had two good clients who were willing to step up and go after him.”
Consigned by Raul Reyes's King's Equine as Hip 422, the Feb. 26 foal worked an eighth in :10 at the preview. The son of leading sire Medaglia d'Oro was bred in Kentucky by Town & Country Horse Farms and Pollock Farms and was consigned by Reyes on their behalf.
Hip 422 is out of the graded stakes-placed Tapit mare Rashnaa. Her offspring have been very commercially popular in the ring so far, including Golden Challenge (Medaglia d'Oro) ($425,000 '16 FTSAUG); and runaway Santa Anita debut winner for Juddmonte Farms and Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, the 3-year-old filly Anuket (Pioneerof the Nile) ($575,000 '17 FTSAUG).
“It's not bad to be by him,” Servis said of Hip 422's sire appeal. “I'm sure if he wasn't by Medaglia d'Oro, he probably would've been a couple hundred thousand cheaper. He's a great, big horse. Touch back in his knee, but he gets over the ground really good. He's really athletic. I think he's just gonna be a horse that you're gonna have to go slow with. But, I think in the long run, hopefully, he'll be a real nice horse for us.”
Leonard Green of D.J. Stable, standing alongside Servis during the bidding process, also campaigns the promising 3-year-old A Thread of Blue (Hard Spun). Trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, he's won three straight on grass, including the GIII Palm Beach S. at Gulfstream Mar. 2. He was purchased for $430,000 at last year's OBS March Sale. –@SteveSherackTDN
It's Good to be King…
In addition to Wednesday's session-topping $900,000 Medaglia d'Oro colt, Raul Reyes's King's Equine enjoyed two sensational days of selling at OBS March. Reyes also consigned an $825,000 Bernardini colt (Hip 240), a $400,000 Into Mischief filly (Hip 435), a $300,000 American Pharoah colt (Hip 212); and a $300,000 Into Mischief colt (Hip 316). King's Equine sold a total of 10 2-year-olds for a gross of $3,625,000, good for an average of $362,500. King's Equine sold the topper at the 2013 OBS March Sale as well, a $1.8-million Smart Strike colt. Standout King's Equine sale graduates include millionaire, Stanford (Malibu Moon), a $550,000 Barretts March 2-year-old.
“I can't say nothing but good things about the way the sale went,” Reyes said. “When things go good for you, what else can you say? The Medaglia was a beautiful individual–you perform well and if two people like them, they pay for it.”
West Point Comes Out Swinging Again On Day Two…
A day after landing the $2-million OBS March record-setting 2-year-old son of Tapit (Hip 33), West Point Thoroughbreds was back at it again early in the session on Wednesday, landing a filly from the first crop of The Big Beast for $850,000.
“It's for a West Point partnership. She'll go out to California and John Sadler will probably get her,” Lane's End Bloodstock's David Ingordo said after signing the ticket as 'LEB, agent for West Point, M. Anthony, B. Sandbroo,' out back. “When you see a horse that you just know is a runner… she's it. I don't care who she's by, she had the look and did everything right. It's clearly a lot of money, but she's worth it if she runs. The Big Beast was a very good horse, so he isn't without some merit on his own. She's a lovely horse–the way she looks, how she breezed, everything about her–and the good horses cost money because these are the kind that end up in the big races.”
Ingordo added, “Ocala Stud is like the Lane's End of Ocala. The O'Farrell family–they do a great job, they pioneered this. We're excited to have her.”
Some of West Point's other big purchases during the two-day OBS March sale include: Hip 16, a $350,000 Tapiture colt; Hip 222, a $185,000 Carpe Diem colt; Hip 226, a $250,000 Include colt; and Hip 410, a $475,000 Lemon Drop Kid colt.
West Point is currently well-represented by a pair of talented colts on the Triple Crown trail from last year's 2-year-old sales: the streaking California-bred Galilean (Uncle Mo) ($600,000 Barretts Spring) and GIII Sham S. winner Gunmetal Gray (Exchange Rate) ($225,000 OBS March). Both have been entered in the GII Rebel S., which will be run in split divisions at Oaklawn Saturday. –@SteveSherackTDN
Ocala Stud's 'Big' Filly Brings $850k…
Freshman sire The Big Beast–winner of the 2014 GI King's Bishop S. at Saratoga carrying the colors of Alex and JoAnn Lieblong–enjoyed a banner day at OBS March Wednesday, led by an $850,000 filly purchased by West Point.
The Big Beast, a $150,000 OBS April 2-year-old himself, stands the 2019 season for $6,000 at Ocala Stud in Florida. He had 19 of 23 yearlings sell for a $24,368 average, headed by a $70,000 colt in 2018, according to TDN Sales PPs.
“I'm speechless,” Ocala Stud's David O'Farrell said back at Barn 4 after watching the farm's homebred filly Hip 302 light up the board. “I was a big fan of The Big Beast as a racehorse. We're just really fortunate to be able to have the opportunity to stand that horse for the Lieblongs. To get the stallion off to a start like this–that filly hadn't had a bad day in her life and she's just been a really quality filly. She looks and acts the part and she can just flat out run. We're elated.”
Hip 302 is out of three-time winner Lucky Trip (Trippi), an Ocala Stud homebred and $57,000 OBS June 2-year-old graduate. Ocala Stud acquired her back after her racing career concluded for $18,000 at the 2008 Keeneland November Sale. Lucky Trip is a half-sister to the Ocala Stud-bred and $340,000 OBS March graduate Candrea (Trippi), SW & GISP, $200,200.
“She's an Ocala Stud homebred which makes it even more special,” O'Farrell said. “These 2-year-old sales are our livelihood and we support our stallions with our better mares and we bring our entire crop to the 2-year-old sales. When you have one that rewards you like this, and with it being a young and exciting stallion like The Big Beast, it just makes all that more special.”
O'Farrell concluded, “She was all class. She had a phenomenal breeze and a great gallop out. She came back to the barn super and showed herself extremely well. She's got it all.”
A colt by The Big Beast, consigned by L. G., Agent I, as Hip 418, later followed suit, bringing $450,000 from trainer Peter Miller, agent. The $45,000 OBSOCT yearling, out of the winning Our Emblem mare Raebear, fired a :9 3/5 bullet at the under-tack show.
Alex Lieblong, recently reappointed to a five-year term as chairman of the Arkansas Racing Commission, was back watching the sale's action from his home base after making a quick stop in Ocala earlier this week.
“We're very happy and wish the buyers the best of luck,” Lieblong said. “Thanks to all involved–trainers Steve Hobby, Tony Dutrow and Ocala Stud. We certainly like ours–I haven't heard any bad reports, and that's the best thing. The ones I have I'm really pleased with and they'll go with David Fawkes in Florida because they're all Florida-breds. When I look at all the horses out there, including some of the higher-dollar ones I've bought and look at these, they look like they fit right there.”
Ryan Gets One With Familiar Pedigree…
Considering Mike Ryan's close familiarity with both sides of hip 325's pedigree, it should've come as no surprise that the prominent bloodstock agent would the one left holding the ticket Wednesday once bidding finally stopped at $850,000. He was bidding on behalf of owner Jeff Drown. The son of Classic-winning first-crop sire Palace Malice was consigned by Joe Pickerrell and Courtney Roberts's Pick View LLC, Agent II and covered a quarter in :21 1/5.
Hip 325 is out of a winning full-sister to GII Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf heroine More Than Real (More Than Ready).
“I thought he was the best horse in the sale,” Ryan said. “I'm very close to the horse–I bought Palace Malice as a yearling, and I bred [this colt's] mother and More Than Real. When I saw him here the other day, he blew me away. My only disappointment was that I didn't see him last September.”
Palace Malice, the 2013 GI Breeders' Cup Classic winner and 2014 GI Metropolitan H. winner, was a $25,000 KEESEP yearling turned $200,000 Keeneland April graduate.
Ryan paid $310,000 for hip 325's multiple stakes-winning second dam Miss Seffens (Dehere) in foal to Speightstown at the 2006 Keeneland November sale. More Than Real was produced two years later, and Ryan bought her back for $140,000 as a 2-year-old. He owned her when she won first out at Saratoga before selling her privately to Bobby Flay.
Ryan sold hip 325's dam to Three Chimneys Farm for $400,000 as a Keeneland April juvenile in 2014.
“He's very much like his father, but there's speed in that family,” Ryan said, noting that a trainer for the colt had not yet been decided on. “Curlin on top of Deputy Minister–the second dam was by Dehere–is very, very strong. His breeze was phenomenal, and everybody and his brother was on him. He's a two-turn horse who showed a lot of pace. Palace Malice was second first time out as a 2-year-old going five eighths of a mile… [This colt] has plenty of pace. I'd expect him to run as a 2-year-old–hopefully at Saratoga, and I'm hoping he's Breeders' Cup class.”
Jeff Drown, is the CEO of Minnesota-based Lyon Contracting.
“He's trying to build a quality stable and he's passionate about the business,” Ryan said. “His family loves it, he loves it.”
Ryan noted that he purchased a $650,000 Candy Ride (Arg) filly for Drown as last year's OBS April sale. Named Smooth With a Kick and turned over to Chad Brown, she finished third on debut behind 'TDN Rising Star' Karama (Kitten's Joy) at Gulfstream Feb. 16. –@BDiDonatoTDN
Palace Malice Colt Lives Up to Pickerrell's Prediction…
When asked last week to pick a standout among his consignment, Pick View's Joe Pickerrell was quick to mention hip 325 (see Pick View Taking Classic-leaning Colts into OBSMAR). That assessment proved accurate as the son of Palace Malice went to top judge Mike Ryan for $850,000.
A $160,000 Keeneland September acquisition by pinhooking partnership Marquee Bloodstock, the Feb. 4 foal eclipsed the consignment's prior sale record of $300,000 achieved here 12 months ago.
“We knew coming in here we had a lot of horse,” Pickerrell said. “It was just a matter of who all lined up for him. The horse did everything perfectly all week, and we're happy to see someone like Mike Ryan and his team get him.”
He added, “When you're at the farm and they're training like he trained all winter long, you just hope everything goes right because you know the kind of potential a horse like that has.”
Pickerrell dedicated the sale of hip 325 to Kevin Hartigan, the owner/operator of Cashel Stud who passed away in January. Pick View had purchased property on the farm.
Altogether, Pick View sold its five head for $1.2 million. –@BDiDonatoTDN
Team Breeze Easy Hoping for Return Trip to Ascot…
Mike Hall and Sam Ross's Breeze Easy paid $200,000 for catalog cover girl Shang Shang Shang (Shanghai Bobby) at this sale a year ago, and saw that Wesley Ward filly win from Keeneland to Royal Ascot, where she annexed the G2 Norfolk S. last June. Hall admitted Wednesday that he had Royal Ascot aspirations once again after signing the $470,000 ticket on hip 546.
A $32,500 Fasig-Tipton July yearling buy by consignor de Meric Stables, the daughter of speedy first-crop sire Fast Anna breezed an eighth in a snappy :9 4/5.
“I've always loved her from the time I first saw her, and I wasn't really looking at her page, but I saw the horse and I just fell in love with her,” Hall said. “I'm not saying that she's a turf horse–she's probably a dirt horse–but she might still be on our list for one we might try and go over there with.”
Ward was alongside other members of the Breeze Easy team, including Ocala horseman Dean DeRenzo, for the bidding process and Hall said hip 546 would likely be heading to the 2-year-old maestro.
Breeze Easy paid $365,000 during Tuesday's OBSMAR opener for another filly with Royal Ascot appeal–hip 140 was an All Dreams Equine-consigned daughter of Group 1-winning juvenile and fellow freshman Karakontie (Jpn). She went in a co-quickest :9 4/5 at last Thursday's breeze show. –@BDiDonatoTDN