Hits and Misses as OBSMAR Opens Under Trying Circumstances

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Hip 226 | Photos by Z

by Brian DiDonato & Steve Sherack

Under the cloud of the COVID-19 pandemic and a sharp stock market reaction, the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company’s March 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale kicked off Tuesday with mixed results for sellers–as expected–but probably with better trade than some may have feared.

At the end of selling Tuesday, 134 head had changed hands for a combined $12,550,500 at an average of $93,660 and median of $50,000. Those stats are expected to change as buyers continue to shop the RNA list and subsequent post-sale transactions are factored in, as will the RNA rate, which as of this writing stood at 44.4% with 107 buybacks.

While last year’s OBS March opener was held under dramatically different circumstances, for reference, last year’s session one gross before factoring in later post-sale transactions was $22,134,000. The average was $153,708 and median was $83,500, with an RNA rate of 29.8%.

“We’re certainly not going to draw comparisons to other sales  because we’re operating under unprecedented circumstances,”  OBS director of sales Tod Wojciechowski said. “We were pleased that we were able to even hold the sale and allow some horses to be traded. That being said, there were still some nice horses who sold well. I think both the buyers and sellers showed resiliency while at the same time we’re all concerned and thinking about the circumstances that we’re currently dealing with.”

The day’s top lot was hip 237, an American Pharoah filly consigned by Ciaran Dunne’s Wavertree Stables and sold to Katsumi Yoshida for $650,000. She was the fastest quarter-mile breezer during last week’s under-tack show after working in a sparkling :20 2/5.

During the entirety of last year’s two-day sale, there were seven horses who sold for more than Tuesday’s session topper, including the $2-million record-setting Tapit colt who sold during the first session.

“Certainly, the external forces that we’re dealing with have an effect–there’s no doubt,” Wojciechowski said of the lack of break-out horses at the top end. “But, I did have a number of buyers tell me today that some of their favored horses were [in Wednesday’s session]. It’s unrealistic to think that the status in the world has no effect.”

Wavertree Stables was leading consignor with 10 sold for $2,060,000. Katsumi Yoshida’s two purchases for a combined $1,070,000 made him leading buyer.

Other buyers from Japan were also active in addition to Yoshida.

“It wasn’t unexpected,” Wojciechowski said. “They traveled a long way to get here and they attended the breeze show. They were concerned–they’ve had to deal with this in their home country as well. But they were here, and they’ve been fortunate and done a good job of getting some nice horses out of the March sale [in the past]. I wasn’t surprised to see them active.”

The second and final OBS March session begins Wednesday at 10:30 a.m.

Fast ‘Pharoah’ Filly Brings Big Bucks

Hip 237 separated herself during last week’s OBS March under-tack previews as the lone juvenile to cover a quarter-mile in :20 2/5, and she stood by herself in the sales ring, too, when yielding a session-high bid of $650,000 from Katsumi Yoshida of Japan’s Northern Farm. The Apr. 25 foal was consigned by Ciaran Dunne’s Wavertree Stables, Inc. (Click for ThoroStride walking video.)

Hip 237 is half to MSP My Sweet Stella (Eskendereya) and to the dam of another stakes winner. Her dam Megalicious (Songandaprayer) is a half to MSW and MGSP Abbondanza (Alphabet Soup) and brought just $6,000 from M & M Racing at last month’s Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Winter Mixed Sale while in foal to Paynter.

“It’s going to be all the usual cliches, but at the end of the day she was fast and she vetted good. And if they can do that, you’re golden,” Dunne said. “She had a bit of pedigree. She was well-bought and well-sold, I would think.”

The bay was a $70,000 KEENOV weanling and $165,000 KEESEP yearling.

“It was for one of our pinhooking partnerships,” Dunne noted. “We bought her at Keeneland last year and she was in Book 3. She was a little on the small side, but she was a beautiful mover. I think a lot of people picked on her for her size. We just took a shot. When they work like that, they get a whole lot bigger. She grew up and she’s beautiful. She is a quality filly and she backed it up on the racetrack.”

Yoshida also bought a $420,000 Medaglia d’Oro colt (hip 65) earlier in the session from Top Line Sales.

Wavertree, Tuesday session’s leading consignor with 10 sold for $2,060,000, also sold:

  • A $320,000 Frankel (GB) filly (hip 226, :21 1/5, ThoroStride) to Team Casse. She was a €280,000 Goffs Orby yearling out of a full-sister to British MGSW and MG1SP Gregorian (Clodovil). “We were probably a shade disappointed,” Dunne said. “We always thought she was a better filly than that. She was really well-bought. For a filly who is bred to go 1 1/4 miles to put in the breeze she did was pretty phenomenal. I thought she made an amazing video. Coming in here and after she breezed, we thought she would have brought a tick more, but we will take what we got and move on.”
  • A $320,000 American Pharoah colt (hip 319, :21 1/5, ThoroStride), purchased by trainer John Kimmel, who was a $330,000 KEEJAN short yearling and $300,000 KEESEP RNA. Out of SW and MGSP Please Sign In (Doc’s Leader), he’s half to European highweight and G1SW Certify (Elusive Quality) and GISW Cry and Catch Me (Street Cry {Ire}).
  • A $275,000 Dialed In colt (hip 141, :20 3/5, ThoroStride) who breezed the fastest quarter last Thursday and sold to North Hills. He was a $30,000 Keeneland November weanling and a $130,000 Fasig-Tipton July yearling and is out of a stakes-winner and a half to a stakes winner. “He’s a beautiful horse,” Dunne said. “We maybe would have thought he could have brought a little more, but he didn’t sell on his reserve–he sold in excess of where we set the reserve.”

“We basically set our reserves based on where we think we can sell them,” Dunne said when asked if he had adjusted reserves at all in response to a potentially soft market. “We are not a racing operation. We sell. If we get one back, it’s because we read the room wrong. I don’t think it would have been any different last year, five years ago, we would have done the same thing. And gotten the same results.”

He added as the session wore down Tuesday, “We sold 10 of 12 and I would imagine that the other two are going to get done here in the next hour. It wasn’t all pretty and a lot of it was just getting our money back and getting out of Dodge. But we’ve been doing this a long time and there haven’t been many easy days. I’m not sure this will even rank up there with some of the hardest. There was plenty of activity around the barns. The vetting was good. We were disappointed in a spot here and there, but there have been plenty of times where we’ve been disappointed before and when there were no excuses.” —@BDiDonatoTDN

MyRacehorse in a New York State of Mind…

Michael Behrens and David Kandasamy’s California-based fledgling MyRacehorse.com made some noise with a pair of New York-bound purchases during OBS March’s first day of trade, led by a $500,000 Into Mischief colt (ThoroStride video), who will be campaigned in partnership with Spendthrift Farm. A trainer will be decided at a later date.

Consigned by de Meric Sales, Agent XX, as Hip 258, the highest-price colt sold on the day is out of the multiple stakes-placed Montbrook mare Montessa G. The $235,000 KEESEP yearling, bred in Kentucky by Machmer Hall, breezed a quarter in :21 at the under-tack show.

MyRacehorse and B. Wayne Hughes’s operation went to $550,000 for another son of Into Mischief at this sale last year. Now named Lane Way, the handsome bay finished third in his two-turn debut in a maiden special weight at third asking for Hall of Famer Richard Mandella at Santa Anita Sunday. Leading sire Into Mischief currently commands a $175,000 stud fee at Spendthrift Farm.

“The Into Mischief colt looks like a precocious 2-year-old,” MyRacehorse’s Racing Operations and Owner Experience Manager Joe Mishak said. “Into Mischief speaks for himself, he’s had a tremendous start as a stallion. With horses like Authentic and some others on the Derby trail, he’s just a tremendous stallion that we support and our partners at Spendthrift are obviously big fans as well. This colt is extremely well-balanced–we saw him breeze at the farm beforehand, too–he’s very athletic and fluid. We had a lot of good faith in the consignor Nick de Meric–he takes really good care of his horses–and that’s an added bonus having that confidence. We were excited to get him right where we wanted him.”

MyRacehorse also purchased Hip 166, a son of Mission Impazible co-bred by Sequel Thoroughbreds and Twin Creeks Farm from the Sequel Bloodstock, Agent III, consignment (:10 1/5), for $100,000 Tuesday. The New York-bred will be trained by Todd Pletcher with Twin Creeks staying in as a partner. Produced by the More Than Ready mare Kettle’s Sister, he is a half-brother to GIII Sam F. Davis S. winner Vinceremos (Pioneerof the Nile).

Offering shares of in-training Thoroughbreds in “micro” increments for as little as $100, MyRaceHorse has hit the ground running since its inception just a few years ago, campaigning in partnership the likes of GI Cotillion S. heroine Street Band (Istan) and GII Pocahontas S. winner Lazy Daisy (Paynter). The promising sophomore Tizamagician (Tiznow), a close fourth in the GIII Robert B. Lewis S., is co-owned along with Spendthrift Farm. Using a “collaborative approach,” MyRacehorse’s advisors include bloodstock agent and popular TVG analyst Nick Hines.

“We wanted to come into this sale as a company to place an emphasis on our New York program,” Mishak said. “We started a couple of years ago in California where our headquarters are–we remain committed to the California program–then we went national last year and we’re just making a natural progression to the other major racing circuits. As our corporate strategy and goal, we really wanted to thank and reward our New York-based owners for their support so far. We’re very appreciative, and now it’s time to rock and roll for those guys and get some quality horses out there, too. We’re very excited.” –@SteveSherackTDN

Pick View Finds Success With Another Freshman…  

Twelve months ago, Joe Pickerrell and Courtney Roberts of Pick View LLC were celebrating at OBS March after selling $160,000 yearling buy and eventual GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf hero Structor (Palace Malice) for $850,000. The young consignors found more success with a son of a first-crop sire this year thanks to hip 320, a :20 3/5 breezer by Runhappy scooped up by agent Josh Stevens and trainer Bret Calhoun for $475,000 on behalf of owner Tom Durant. (Click for ThoroStride walking video.)

“We knew he would be a top colt–we just didn’t know what that meant in this current environment,” Pickerrell said. “That colt might have brought twice that a year ago, but we’re happy to get what we can and he’s going to a good spot, so we wish them nothing but the best of luck.”

Hip 320 is out of the stakes-placed Pledge Pin (Chatain), who is a half to MSW and MGSP Great Mills (War Front). He was bought back for $145,000 at Keeneland  September and was sold by Pick View on behalf of his breeder, Millennium Farms.

“Nobody missed the horse,” Pickerrell said. “Everybody that’s anybody had him out multiple times. It’s just a matter of what people are willing to spend in this economy. People who are realistic understand that this is just a storm that’s going to pass, and we’re going to be back to normal pretty soon. The fast horses are still going to be fast horses when this storm passes.”

Pick View has a second Runhappy colt in its 2020 crop of juveniles–the other one was entered in the now-cancelled Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream Sale.

“They’re both top colts–we just thought in order to best showcase them both, we’d split them up and go in different directions,” Pickerrell said. “We really like [the other colt] quite a bit. He’s a big, strong, hearty horse–really handles the training. He’ll be a horse who will be around for awhile, and when we get a chance to showcase him, we’re pretty excited about getting him in front of some people.” —@BDiDonatoTDN

Another ‘Top’ Lot for Yoshida at OBS March…

A year after purchasing a trio of juveniles from the Top Line Sales OBS March consignment, including smashing Tokyo debut winner and $525,000 graduate Lecce Baroque (Uncle Mo), Northern Farm’s Katsumi Yoshida went to $420,000 for a son of Medaglia d’Oro (ThoroStride video) from Jimbo and Torie Gladwell’s operation in Ocala Tuesday.

“Mr. Yoshida has had very good luck with our horses, but he also buys the best that we offer,” Torie Gladwell said. “[MGSW] Copano Kicking (Spring At Last) also went to Japan for different owners a couple of years ago [$100,000 2017 Fasig-Tipton March graduate] and that horse has won a couple of million dollars over there. I think that set the precedent that we do sell nice, solid horses and they don’t have to be million-dollar horses coming out of our consignment to go over there and perform.”

Hip 65, a $400,000 RNA as a yearling at Keeneland September, was bred in Kentucky by Fred W. Hertrich, III. He breezed an eighth in :10 1/5 at the OBS March under-tack show. The bay is out the Dansili mare Flagstaff (GB), a daughter of the talented Juddmonte homebred and G1 Prix de la Foret heroine and GI Matriarch S. runner-up Etoile Montante (Miswaki).

“We were so nervous taking that horse to the ring, and after watching all these results right now, I probably would’ve been even more nervous because the market is very scary,” Gladwell said late Tuesday afternoon. “We were lucky enough to have four or five really good vets on him, so we felt like we were secure going up there, but we just weren’t sure if people were going to raise their hands. The Medaglia d’Oro colt was very sound–he was vetted and X-rayed from his feet to his ears and passed all the X-rays. That’s what I think people liked about him, plus he was a really pretty-moving horse on the synthetic track and also on the dirt. He might be able to go both ways, even though his pedigree does scream turf.”

She concluded, “We really liked him as yearling–Taylor Made had him up there at Keeneland–and we were trying to buy him. The breeder and some of his partners agreed to let us train him and sell him here though, so that was very kind of them.”

The aforementioned 3-year-old filly Lecce Baroque beat the boys by 10 lengths on debut in Japan Feb. 8 (video). Yoshida’s other 2019 purchases from Top Line included a $675,000 Candy Ride (Arg) half-sister to champion Drefong (Gio Ponti); and a $200,000 Cairo Prince colt. He picked up a $775,000 American Pharoah colt–now named Nile River–a debut winner at Tokyo last November and unplaced in Hyacinth S.–at Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream last year.

Yoshida also bought Tuesday’s $650,000 OBS March session topper, a daughter of American Pharoah. She was consigned by Wavertree Stables, Inc. (Ciaran Dunne), agent. –@SteveSherackTDN

Out of the ‘Blue’

The first juvenile to sell from the first crop of European champion 2-year-old male Air Force Blue (War Front) was well-received in the OBS ring Tuesday, bringing $390,000 from Willis Horton Racing LLC. The Feb. 10 foal was consigned by Brandon and Ali Rice’s RiceHorse Stable as hip 27, and covered a furlong last Thursday in :10 flat. (Click for ThoroStride walking video.)

Bred in Kentucky by Sierra Farm, the chestnut was a $95,000 KEESEP RNA. His MSW dam has produced eight winners, including globetrotting G2 UAE Derby and G2 Juddmonte Royal Lodge S. winner and fellow promising young sire Daddy Long Legs (Scat Daddy), as well as MSW Tres Dream (Chester House). Second dam Sparrow Lake (Apalachee) was also a multiple stakes winner.

RiceHorse partnered with Sharon Hudon’s Sierra Farm to bring  the colt to the 2-year-old sales after he RNA’d at September.

“It was beyond expectations,” said consignor Brandon Rice of Tuesday’s result. “We’re really happy for the people who got the horse. I think they’re going to thank us in the future for buying a horse who my wife and I have thought the world of. We loved him at September, but weren’t able to afford him, so we struck a deal with Sierra Farm and [farm manager] Mike Callanan. We were glad that they entrusted us with him–I don’t think we were the only offer, but they chose us for the job.”

Rice said that he and his wife Ali had a high opinion of the colt as soon as he began his first lessons.

“Right from the breaking process we thought he was special, but you don’t really know anything until you start putting the speed on him,” he said. “Right from the first work, he felt amazing. He gave you goosebumps… From there, with us as a young, humble business and trying to be careful with what we do, we said, ‘How do we not mess this up?’ We’d been blessed with such a good horse here–eats well, trains well, takes care of himself, always overachieves breezing… He’s just brilliant. Whoever trains him–whether it’s Ali and I, or his next trainer, he’ll look just as good. I’m certain of it. We’re just blessed to have had him in our shedrow.”

Airforce Blue, a $490,000 KEESEP yearling trained by Adian  O’Brien, stands at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud. He commanded a fee of $25,000 in his first year.

“I have two Air Force Blues–the other one is a filly who’s going to the races for a customer,” Rice said when asked if he’d had his hands on any of the sire’s other progeny. “She is really gorgeous moving right now; I haven’t asked as much of her as what I’ve asked of this colt… certain horses, the way they move, the way they wow you, the way they recover from workouts and handle themselves within workouts competing with other horses–that filly’s doing everything right. I’ve got good mojo about this sire.”

The big story heading into OBS March was obviously the social and economic uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, but Rice was taking everything in stride some halfway through the first day of selling Tuesday.

“The whole industry and the whole world is just caught up in a funny economy and time, but I think most of the wise people will just keep their heads down and keep making one good decision after another, day by day,” he said. “Obviously, with race meets being cancelled and other sales being cancelled, it’s hitting us 2-year-old sellers at a really tough time. We’re all nervous; we have financial pressures on us, but this is already a risky business–we don’t need additional risk on top of it… I think for now we have to keep our heads down and keep selling. If it’s going to hurt me in my pocketbook, I probably won’t know about it. Would all these horses have brought double if the stock market was good? Probably not. We aren’t going to panic. We’re going to keep taking care of our horses to the best of our ability and it will work itself out. At the same time, I don’t want to downplay the market and situation because I think there are other guys who won’t be as fortunate as me. I had the special horse in that top tier of the sale and probably of anything that’s going to be offered this spring. You’re just never in trouble when you’ve got a horse like that in your hands.” —@BDiDonatoTDN

Full-Sister to Bar of Gold Brings $330K…

As the estate planning of longtime owners/breeders Chester and Mary Broman continues, a Medaglia d’Oro full-sister to their 2017 GI Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint upsetter Bar of Gold brought $330,000 from Larry Best’s OXO Equine at OBS March Tuesday.

Best has already enjoyed success with another daughter of the Darley leading sire, campaigning $1.25-million KEESEP graduate Cambier Parc (Medaglia d’Oro) to wins in the 2019 GI Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup S. and GI Del Mar Oaks.

The dark bay, a :10 flat breezer at the under-tack show, was consigned as Hip 167 by Becky Thomas’s Sequel Bloodstock on behalf of the Bromans. With the couple staying in for a piece, Sequel Bloodstock also sold the GII TwinSpires.com Louisiana Derby-bound and Broman-bred Chestertown (Tapit) for an OBS March record of $2 million to a group headed by West Point Thoroughbreds at this sale last year.

“She was absolutely beautiful,” Thomas said of the New York-bred full-sister to Bar of Gold. “They are different kind of fillies. This filly is quick. Bar of Gold was real tall, leggy and stretchy. She was a different made kind of horse. They are both very Medaglia looking in terms of color though, both being dark bay or brown. Larry Best got a really, really great value. The market is obviously very compromised with what’s happening right now and Mr. Broman is very realistic on reserves. We were sure that she was going to sell. We’re really happy that Mr. Best got her. Mr. Broman isn’t dispersing his mares at this time. We know that she’ll get a great shot, that part was really good, but it is bittersweet.”

Khancord Kid (Lemon Drop Kid), winner of the 2010 GIII Herecomesthebride S. at Gulfstream, has also produced stakes-placed runners Land Mine (Mineshaft) and Homeland (American Pharoah) ($500,000 KEESEP graduate). The 13-year-old produced a colt by Medaglia d’Oro in 2019 and was bred to Triple Crown winner Justify for the 2020 season. She is due in late May. This is the extended female family of standouts Half Ours (Unbridled’s Song), Yankee Gentleman (Storm Cat), et al. Bar of Gold was her first foal. –@SteveSherackTDN

Keeneland Cancellation Not Stopping Ward…

Perhaps no trainer was more significantly affected by Keeneland’s cancellation of its spring meet due to COVID-19 than Wesley Ward, who dominates the Lexington oval’s April juvenile races and uses them as a springboard to Royal Ascot. Despite still trying to figure out when and where his more precocious trainees would make their debuts, Ward added another speedster to the stable Tuesday in the form of hip 129. Consigned by GOP Racing Stable Corp., the son of The Factor tied for the quickest furlong of the under-tack previews at

:9 4/5 and was the only horse to achieve that feat during Thursday’s first breeze show.

“He’s fast–we know that. Now all we have to find is a place to race him,” said Ward, who appeared to be in a jovial mood given the current set of circumstances. “Obviously, I’ve been lucky with the sire. The good thing about the 2-year-old in training sales is that, you can have the pedigrees and physicals and all that [at earlier sales], but here you at least get to see them go an eighth of a mile, and this guy’s as fast as there is in the sale. That’s 90% of the battle, finding a runner–certainly he’s that. We don’t know how far he can go, but we know he can go an eighth of a mile quick.”

Ward owns and trains Bound for Nowhere (The Factor), winner of the 2018 GII Shakertown S. at Keeneland.

Hip 129 was a $22,000 KEENOV RNA turned $17,000 OBSOCT yearling. He is out of SW and GSP Idle Talk (Olmodavor) and hails from the female family of champion Monomoy Girl (Tapizar) and her GSW half-brother Mr. Monomoy (Palace Malice).

As for plans for the rest of his stable of juveniles, Ward said,    “Every year, the fast ones of mine who I start breaking and training come to hand real quick, so every year I’ve been backing up later and later and later. The first few started to identify themselves a couple weeks ago when we started breezing. Those were the ones we were going to focus on in the first couple of races [at Keeneland], and the rest would kind of just fall into place. Now that they’re not going to have the Keeneland meet, we’ll just back up on everything and give them a bit more time. I’m lucky that in years past I started them a lot earlier, but I’ve continued to back things up–so it kind of worked out in that way at least. It’s quite a shame. I was really hoping that they’d continue racing without fans like they’ve been doing. Being the only game in town to put your two dollars on, doing it sitting on your couch, would’ve been a great opportunity for racing to get more people involved. Hopefully the other tracks don’t follow suit, but we’ll see what happens.” —@BDiDonatoTDN

 

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