OCALA, FL–There's been a palpable good feeling all week at OBS for the auction house's marquee Spring 2-Year-Old Sale, and you need look no further than the full parking lot to explain why. Business is booming, but perhaps equally responsible for the positive vibes is the easing of coronavirus restrictions as the country rapidly becomes vaccinated, which means old friends seeing and hugging each other for the first time in a long time. Wednesday morning, Joe Bianca and Jon Green talked about that and much more with four consignors and buyers in the first on-scene episode of TDN Writers' Room presented by Keeneland.
Joining the set, posted up at the tiki bar near the walking ring, were Green Group Guests of the Week Barry “Doc” Eisaman, Randy Miles, Nick de Meric and Terry Finley, all of whom exuded the optimism felt from economic and personal standpoints on the grounds compared to last year's delayed, angst-filled sale.
“The weight is just lifted off our back,” said Miles, whose six-horse consignment includes Hip 1099, an Into Mischief filly expected to bring a large return on the sale's final day after breezing a furlong in :9 4/5. “We had no idea what was going to happen last year. We were trying to sell horses privately because we didn't know what the market was going to be like. And a big part of this business is not about the money, it's about all of our friends. It's just so nice to be out here for this two-week period and all of our friends are here. It's like a big party. Everybody is in a great mood, and it's just refreshing. If we can get the racetracks back to this, it'll be so much fun. The financial stuff always takes care of itself. But the people are what makes it fun.”
Nick de Meric's de Meric Sales has come to OBS typically loaded with promising juveniles, which bore out later Wednesday in the ring when a Quality Road colt (hip 381, :10 flat breeze) from his shedrow hammered to Speedway Stable for a thus-far sale-topping $1.5 million.
“As we all know, if this business teaches you nothing else it teaches you to be humble, but we do have a couple of potential stars,” de Meric said. “We have a fabulous Quality Road, we have a couple of Into Mischiefs that we think an awful lot of. Curlin, Candy Ride, we've got some names represented in the consignment and the horses performed well and vetted well after their performance, and people seem to be lining up well in a few spots.”
de Meric also commented on the good feeling around the grounds, saying, “I think the atmosphere is diametrically opposed to last year. People have been on lockdown so long and had restricted travel so long, they're just ready to come out and play. And what better place to play than a 2-year-old sale? There is definitely a feeling of optimism in the air.”
The proximity to next Saturday's GI Kentucky Derby, also back on its normal calendar spot this year, also helped that optimism. West Point Thoroughbreds' CEO Finley bought a pair of babies Tuesday and spoke about the motivation of the impending Derby to find the next star.
“You look at the top 25 horses that are in contention for the Derby and they don't all come from day one in September, they don't all cost $600,000,” he said. “They come from all over the spectrum. So I think that's what keeps everybody [motivated]. The fact that you can come here and get a great athlete to take a shot with to try to get to the big races.”
Eisaman was this week's Minnesota Racehorse Engagement Project Story of the Week after he and wife Shari's Eisaman Equine sold a homebred colt by Gun Runner (Hip 118, :10 flat breeze) for an easily session-topping $850,000 to Michael Lund Petersen in Tuesday's sale opener.
“My wife is the brains behind the management of our mares and it's extremely rewarding for her,” he said. “She picked Gun Runner, she helped select that mare, so to have one we raised from a little puppy to yesterday was very good. Every year when we leave the farm and go into the sale, there are young horses who are doing everything quite well and he was one of them. But you can never really predict at that point that he'd catch on with the right buyers and be that successful. After he got here, trained here, the breeze show happened and he galloped out so well, showed so much poise, you begin to evolve into understanding this, but our expectations were never in the range that he brought [Tuesday]. So it was a good day for us, our family, my wife and our broodmares.”
Elsewhere on the show, Bianca and Green reacted to the outstanding battle in the GI Apple Blossom H., talked about the reversal of disqualifications for Bob Baffert trainees Charlatan (Speightstown) and Gamine (Into Mischief) and, in the West Point Thoroughbreds news segment, broke down the implications of New Jersey's strict new whip rules. Click here to watch the podcast; click here for the audio-only version.