By Jessica Martini
OCALA, FL – A flurry of late activity carried the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's June Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training to its conclusion Thursday in Ocala, with final numbers slightly off the auction's robust 2022 renewal.
“Coming off of a record gross of last year, I think we kind of held our own,” said OBS Director of Sales Tod Wojciechowski. “It seemed like the market held up through the entire season. There were no big surprises–the market is what the market is. There is money for the perceived higher quality horses and sometimes it can get a little tough in the middle.”
Over three days, 630 head sold for $23,777,900–down from a year ago when 666 horses sold for a sale record gross of $27,052,000. The sale average of $37,743 dropped 7.1% from a year ago, while the median dropped 10.6% to $21,000. With 136 horses reported not sold, the buy-back rate was 17.8%. That figure is almost par with the 2022 figure of 17.4%, which includes post-sale transactions.
Three of the auction's top six prices came from its supplemental section late in Thursday's final session. John Fahey made the day's highest bid, going to $475,000 for a colt by Into Mischief who was consigned by Tom McCrocklin.
A total of 11 juveniles sold for $200,000 or more during the sale, compared to 21 who hit that mark last year.
The June sale was described throughout the week as polarized and spotty. Many of these same consignors who were selling 2-year-olds in Ocala this week will now be looking ahead to purchasing yearlings beginning next month in Lexington.
“We are putting together a plan on what we are going to do,” Randy Hartley said of expectations for Hartley/DeRenzo's strategy for the upcoming yearling sales.
Asked if he expected any perceived softening in the 2-year-old market this year would translate to the yearling sales, he said, “You don't know because horse people have amnesia. They will go right back there and we will be fighting over them in July.”
Playing at the top of the pinhooking market, Hartley/DeRenzo enjoyed a strong year in the sales ring.
“The market we play in is the most riskiest market but it's the safest market,” he said. “Because people with a lot of money want the best horses. It's what we do and it's the kind of horses we try to buy.”
The Gladwells' Top Line Sales topped the OBS March sale with a $2-million colt by Good Magic. Jimbo Gladwell admitted the operation will be more selective in its yearling purchases, but ultimately will maintain the same approach.
“I don't think we are going to change anything, but we are probably just going to be a little more particular about what we are buying,” Gladwell said. “The market seems really polarized towards perceived quality, but we are still going to shop every sale and just try to pick up quality horses where we find them.
“These last couple of sales have been tough, but it's mainly been tough on the ones that don't make the cut or reach the bar of what people set for what they think is acceptable. If you don't reach the bar, it's very difficult to get them sold. But as long as you jump through all of the hoops and they vet good, and are fast enough, you can do very well. You just have to be very particular when you are buying them because there is not much room for error.”
While the top end of the market inevitably takes care of itself, middle-market pinhookers have been more affected by the increased polarization in the juvenile market this spring.
“I am going to have to be very selective,” Bryan Rice of Woodside Ranch said of his yearling buying plans. “The horses that I was right on, I was able to succeed with. Any horse that I missed the mark at all on, it was pretty unforgiving. So, as I move forward, it has to be really a horse that strikes me in all aspects and that I really believe in.”
Asked if he expected a less competitive yearling market this fall, Rice said, “It probably will be. At least in the middle. I don't think there will be [any softening] in the top. I think it will stay strong, but those of us who make a living moving the intermediate horses, we are going to have to be really selective and really careful with our money.”
Into Mischief Colt Leads the Way Thursday
Bloodstock agent John Fahey made a pair of high-priced purchases on behalf of undisclosed clients from the supplemental section of the OBS June sale, ultimately paying a session-topping $475,000 for a colt by Into Mischief (hip 1074) just 10 hips from the auction's end. Consigned by Tom McCrocklin, the bay colt is out of Canadian champion Delightful Mary (Limehouse).
“He's a big, beautiful Into Mischief colt,” Fahey said of the juvenile who worked a quarter-mile in :21 flat. “He could be a stallion. We will go to the races and find out.”
Fahey said the colt's final price tag was not a surprise.
“Into Mischief is the best stallion in the world and he stands for $250,000,” Fahey said. “And they put all this work into him to get to this point and we get him for basically double the stud fee.”
“I bought her for a client of Justin Casse's,” Fahey said. “She did everything, jumped through all of the hoops. The good ones are expensive.”
The gray filly is out of Tomato Bisque (Macho Uno), a full-sister to graded winner Macho Macho (Macho Uno). Consigned by Julie Davies, the juvenile worked a furlong in :9 4/5. She was purchased for $50,000 at last year's Keeneland September sale.
Fahey purchased six horses at the three-day auction; bidding on behalf of Stone Bridge Farm, he paid $52,000 for a filly by Violence (hip 703); on behalf of Lazy Creek, he paid $17,000 for a colt by Karakontie (Jpn) (hip 323); and as agent, he purchased a colt by Palace Malice (hip 601) for $20,000.
“I felt like if people didn't want to go to the races, you could buy a nice horse that vets for $150,000 easy,” Fahey said of the market at OBS this week. “But if they want to go to the races, they are going to protect them.”
Arrogate Colt to Delgado, Restrepo
Ramiro Restrepo and Gustavo Delgado, Jr., who teamed up to purchase future GI Kentucky Derby winner Mage (Good Magic) as a 2-year-old last year, put together a new partnership to acquire a colt from the last crop of Arrogate (hip 868) for $375,000 during Thursday's final session of the OBS June sale. Consigned by Hartley/DeRenzo Thoroughbreds, the dark bay colt is out of Epic Scataway (Scat Daddy) and worked a furlong last week in :10 flat.
With time winding down on the juvenile sales season, Restrepo agreed there was a desire to acquire a colt by the late champion who was responsible for last week's GI Belmont S. winner Arcangelo.
“Obviously, when we look back at what Arrogate has done as a sire in his limited crops, it's unbelievable,” Restrepo said. “A Classic winner, graded stakes winners, it's just an incredible loss to the game. This is going to be one of the last available ones up for purchase. The colt had an extraordinary work and he is a tremendous physical. For us, we really buy in limited boutique numbers and this horse just kind fit everything we were looking for.”
Restrepo said Delgado was absolutely committed to buying the juvenile.
“Gustavo loved this horse to the moon,” Restrepo said. “He must have gone back to the barn six times and was so, so high on the horse. Arcangelo was our neighbor. Gustavo, Jr. saw Arcangelo walking the shedrow from day one, so he had a front row seat in seeing his development and seeing how these Arrogates progress. And this horse was in line with those other ones. So it just struck a chord with Jr., big time.”
The partnership also purchased a colt by Into Mischief (hip 477) for $300,000 at last month's Fasig-Tipton Midlantic May sale–the same auction where they acquired Mage last spring.
“Our mindset is that we want to buy really nice racehorses with talent and ability that can go and be whatever they are going to be–champion sprinters, champion grass horses, middle-distance horses, Derby horses, whatever. We are looking for good, talented horses and hopefully it all comes together later this fall. Our mindset has always been the same, just find talented runners that can take us places, whether it's the Kentucky Derby or the Travers next year or whatever. We are just hoping for a fantastic effort and our new partners have fun.”
Hip 868 was named Victory Avenue when he went through the sales ring at OBS Thursday, but his path to the auction was anything but paved straight. He was purchased by Dean De Renzo and Randy Hartley for $150,000 at last year's Keeneland September sale. He returned to the sales ring in Ocala sporting an impressive scar across his neck.
“We have a night watchman who lives on the farm and he checked everything around 12-12:30 a.m. right around Christmas one night and everything was fine,” Hartley explained. “I came to the barn at 4 a.m. and he had gotten cast in his stall. He rubbed his shoulder and his back and took off pretty much all the hide. So he had to spend a month at the clinic, rehabbing and getting the hyperbaric chamber and getting him to heal good.”
Hartley said the colt didn't get broke until April and he almost didn't take the handsome dark bay to the June sale.
“I didn't think after the year we had that Dean was going to make me come, but we had another colt in the sale and he said, 'Why don't you just take the black colt?' I said, 'He's never breezed before.' We started to break him in April. But he came over here and he was training like he's a little professional.”
Hartley/DeRenzo had a good spring with offspring of Arrogate. At the OBS Spring sale, the consignment sold a colt by the late sire for $1.45 million. At the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic May sale, the consignment topped the sale with a $1-million daughter of the late champion.
“I know there are no more Arrogates, so I'm like what am I going to buy now?” Hartley said. “I guess I'll be buying some Good Magics and some Justifys–I love the Justifys.”