By Christie DeBernardis
The Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's April Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training continued its positive trends with a competitive session of bidding Wednesday. A colt by Medaglia d'Oro (hip 584) led proceedings on the auction's second day when selling for $850,000 to the partnership group of Eclipse Thoroughbred
Partners, Twin Creeks Racing, Bridlewood Farm and Robert LaPenta.
Through two days, 335 juveniles have grossed $29,660,700. The cumulative average is $88,539, up 21.7% from a year ago, while the median is up 11.1%.
“Today we saw a continuation of the momentum that we had Tuesday,” commented OBS Director of Sales Tod Wojciechowski. “There was a lot of active trade at all levels. Good horses still bring quality money, but yet there were buyers for other horses as well.”
The buy-back rate Wednesday was 25.1%. After the inclusion of post-sales transactions, the corresponding buy-back rate a year ago was 27.6%.
“Horses are getting moved,” Wojciechowski observed. “Obviously, consignors are realistic about what their horses are worth because they are moving, but there are plenty of people here to buy them.”
While polarization has been the trend of recent auctions, some consignors are finding a more level market at the April sale.
“I love the April market because there is a middle and a bottom, where at some of the bigger sales you don't have that luxury,” said David McKathan of Grassroots Training and Sales. “I bring horses in here that I intend to sell across the board. I bring horses in here that I would be happy to get $30,000 and make my profit. I think April is the most complete market that we have.”
Tristan de Meric agreed the April market shows improvement from recent sales.
“I feel good about the market,” de Meric said. “I feel like the market has been better than it's been the last few sales. It's still not as strong as years past, but I feel better about the market than I have in past months.”
Bloodstock agent Justin Casse acknowledged several sellers were enjoying strong results, but still said setting a reasonable reserve was pivotal.
“There are some people that are hitting some pretty good home runs with yearlings that they bought for $20,000 or $40,000 and then they just blossomed into really nice individuals,” said Casse. “Over that $250,000 mark, it is a little dicey. You just have to be careful setting your reserve. I think the clearance rate is pretty good, though, because nobody wants to take anything home. Your options from here are limited.”
David Ingordo signed for two of the 10 juveniles to bring $300,000 or more Wednesday, but he said there were bargains to be had as well.
“There are a lot of nice horses, there are some falling through the cracks that are nice,” Ingordo said. “We are trying to pick those up, too, but the better ones are bringing what they should. The market feels pretty good.”
The OBS April sale continues through Friday with sessions beginning daily at 10:30 a.m.
Derby Dreams for Medaglia Colt Partners
Twin Creeks Racing and Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners teamed up with 2015 GI Kentucky Derby runner Destin (Giant's Causeway). This year, Eclipse will team up with Bridlewood Farm and Robert LaPenta with Derby hopeful Tapwrit (Tapit). Next year, the four owners hope they'll be on the trail to Louisville again, this time with a colt by Medaglia d'Oro they purchased Wednesday in Ocala for a session-topping $850,000.
“We were fortunate enough to join Twin Creeks in the Derby last year with Destin and this year, we've got Bridlewood and Mr. LaPenta as partners on what we hope will be another Derby horse in about 10 days,” explained Eclipse Thoroughbreds' Aron Wellman. “There is a lot of synergy amongst the group and we envision this horse to hopefully develop into a Classic-type individual.”
Of the proliferation of major owners teaming up to purchase sales horses, Wellman added, “The way this market is right now, you see all the big-time players having to team up in order to get horses bought and to try to share in some of the risk. We're all good as partners and we wanted to keep that rolling.”
For Twin Creek's Randy Gullatt, the bay colt's appeal was obvious.
“The pedigree and the way he breezed convinced us he was a Derby-type horse and can hopefully get us where we want to go,” Gullatt said. “We want to go where Destin got us and where Tapwrit got these guys. Maybe he will give us a chance next year.”
Wellman added, “His breeze was exceptional–the way he got over the track was extremely impressive and the gallop-out was strong. His pedigree requires no explanation. He is by a big-time sire in Medaglia d'Oro out of a big-time A.P. Indy mare. He's sort of got it all. He is sort of a big baby and what he did out on the track was all on natural ability. We'll just give him a lot of time to come into his own and hopefully there will be something to talk about this time next year.”
The juvenile was consigned by Paul Sharp on behalf of a partnership of longtime Bluewater Sales clients, who purchased him for $300,000 at last year's Keeneland September Yearling Sale. He was bred by Whisper Hill Farm.
The successful pinhook was likely the first of many for Bluewater's Ryder Levy. The 26-year-old spotted the youngster at Keeneland last fall.
“He was an outstanding physical as a yearling,” recalled Levy. “He was a big, scopey colt with a lot of class and a huge pedigree. Quality is the name of the game these days and he hit in the top 5% in pedigree and physical. And he blossomed into an outstanding individual. Paul Sharp did a great job with him.”
Levy admitted current market conditions, which can often feel like an all-or-nothing proposition, effects how much he'll pay for pinhooking prospects.
“In the last couple of years, there has been a huge dichotomy between the horses that have what people want and the ones that don't,” he said. “You have to have the right horses, so sometimes that will force you to pay more for a yearling if you're planning on reselling as a 2-year-old.”
While last year may have been Levy's first full season of shopping the yearling sales, his family connections almost made being a part of the racing and breeding industry inevitable.
“When I was younger, I thought I might want to do something else,” Levy said. “But with my mother Meg having Bluewater Sales, my stepfather Mike has Muirfield Insurance and my grandfather John Finney was president of Fasig-Tipton, so I have the right pedigree to be in this industry.”
Sharp remained humble after selling the session-topping youngster.
“For a quality horse like this, we always have good expectations, but you never know,” Sharp said. “We had high hopes and at the end of the day, he did well for us. We try to stay grounded and it worked.”
TRIVIA: Indian Vale, bred and raced by Eugene Melnyk, made her graded-stakes debut in the 2005 GII Cotillion H. Hall of Famer Angel Cordero Jr. came out of retirement to ride the filly–at the time a winner of her three starts by a combined 25 lengths–but the duo could do no better than fifth at odds of 2-5.
Farrell Wins Out on Speedy Malibu Moon
Farrell signed the ticket on behalf of Peter Fluor and K.C. Weiner's Speedway Stable, which has campaigned the likes of Grade I winners Hard Not to Like (Hard Spun) and Noted and Quoted (The Factor), who was a $375,000 OBS March buy from the consignment of Eddie Woods, who also consigned hip 591.
“I just thought she was really elegant and she had an amazing breeze,” Farrell said after receiving congratulations from a very happy Woods. “She did it so easily and she galloped out really well. We are trying to be selective. That's the plan with Speedway Stable, to buy a filly that has pedigree and if she goes on to be a top class filly then she is worth a lot residually. She fit the bill. She was our first choice in the whole sale.”
Speedway also campaigns $170,000 OBS March grad Collected (City Zip), who remained perfect in two starts at four with a facile success in the GII Californian S. Apr. 22.
Spendthrift Farm's Malibu Moon has proven to be a top class sire. He is responsible for GI Kentucky Derby hero Orb, who has proved quite popular as a sire at the sales and has his first runners this year. His top progeny this year includes GI Kentucky Oaks contender and MGSW Farrell.
“We love Malibu Moon,” Farrell remarked. “Quite honestly, when you think about what he's done and the caliber of horses he has produced, and compare that with some of the sexy first-season sires that are making a ton of money, [this filly] represents realistic value and that is important to us.”
Woods expressed similar sentiments about Malibu Moon, saying, “He's a great stallion and a great filly stallion. I've been lucky with him with fillies.”
Bred by Hunter Valley Farm and Beechwood Farming Investments, Hip 591 is out of SW and MGSP In the Slips (More Than Ready), whose first foal, the 3-year-old colt Fire for Effect (Smart Strike), broke his maiden in January for Dale Romans. A partnership named Oak Farm purchased the bay filly for just $47,000 at the Fasig-Tipton October sale last term.
“I expected her to sell really, really well, but I can't tell you I expected her to bring $650,000,” Woods offered. “I knew she was going to bring some money. She's quality, she's got pedigree, she's got sire power. She will have value for a long time.” —@CDeBernardis
Distorted Humor Filly Heads West
Bloodstock agent David Ingordo signed the ticket at $575,000 to secure a filly by Distorted Humor on behalf of an undisclosed client.
“I bought her for some good customers in California,” Ingordo, who signed the ticket as Mayberry Farm, said. “The man who is buying her is trying to build up a world-class broodmare band, so we have to start with world-class fillies.”
Hip 383 is out of Eileen's Dream (Bernardini), a half-sister to multiple Grade I winner Dream Rush (Wild Rush). Dream Rush is the dam of Grade I winner Dreaming of Julia (A.P. Indy) and stakes winning 'TDN Rising Star' Atreides (Medaglia d'Oro). She worked a furlong last week in :10 flat.
“We absolutely loved her,” Ingordo said of the juvenile. “It starts out with the physical horse and she was beautiful. She breezed lights out and stood up to it well. Some of these horses breeze and they kind of fall apart, but like the one we bought earlier, she stayed so nice and sound. It's a great family, so if she gets black-type that will be great.”
The chestnut filly, who was an RNA at last year's Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale, was consigned by Off the Hook on behalf of her breeder, CESA Farm.
“They RNA'd her back in Saratoga for $245,000, but she has been in their program and we've broke her since then,” Off the Hook's Joe Appelbaum said. “She is a Distorted Humor from a big family. She had a huge walk on her. She breezed really nicely in :10. For the high-end buyers, she has a lot of stuff. If she runs well, she is going to have huge residual value. I think when you see her physically, she's the sort that can do more beyond April of her 2-year-old year.” @JessMartiniTDN
Price Scores with Munnings Filly
Former jockey Andro Price and his wife Tracey of Price Thoroughbreds LLC enjoyed their biggest sales success yet at OBS April Wednesday when their Munnings filly (hip 345) summoned $425,000 from bloodstock agent David Ingordo.
“My wife Tracey Price and I get a select few horses every year, usually around five,” a jubilant Price remarked after shaking Ingordo's hand out back. “She is our highest-priced sale to date. I'd like to see my wife to give her a big hug.”
The horseman continued, “I was very happy with the price. We knew she'd sell well today, but we didn't know how well. We had a lot of people that looked at her that liked her, so we knew we'd do well. We just didn't know how well.”
Price purchased the Illinois-bred for a fraction of the Wednesday hammer at the Fasig-Tipton October sale last term.
“I actually bought her from the breeder as a pinhook at Fasig-Tipton October for $67,000,” Price recalled. “She was a beautiful filly. It was hard to find a fault in her.”
He added, “She's always been great. She's just been a perfect lady. She's done everything we've asked of her. She's gentle. She's big, but kind.”
Bred by Richard Radke's Asiel Stable, the bay is out of the unraced Mizzen Mast mare Diva N Disguise, a half-sister to MSW and GISP Diva's Diamond (Crafty Shaw). The :9 4/5 breezer also hails from the family of MSW Classic Appeal.
“She was gorgeous and she had a brilliant breeze,” Ingordo remarked. “She filled out and put on weight after the process, which is a great sign. John Sadler is going to get her to train. She was our pick of the fillies. I don't know which of John's customers it's for.”
Later in the session, the Prices scored another rousing pinhooking success when hip 505, a filly by Congrats–Grand Finesse (Grand Slam) was hammered down to Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners for $300,000. The Prices paid $60,000 at Keeneland September last year for the May 8 foal, who hails from the family of Grade I winners Brocco and Gozzip Girl. —@CDeBernardis
Casse Snags 'Quality' Filly
Justin Casse came out on top after a spirited round of bidding to take home hip 422, a Quality Road filly out of the unraced Favoritism (Tiznow), for $500,000. The bloodstock agent was buying on behalf of an undisclosed partnership, but did indicate that the filly would be trained by his brother Mark Casse.
“She worked :9 4/5, she's pretty and she's by a pretty hot sire,” Casse commented after signing the ticket in the office. “She was the best filly in the sale in my opinion. Obviously, she's right up there with the More Than Ready filly that worked :9 3/5, but I might be biased because I bought that one too. But, now it is up to the trainer in the other room [Mark Casse].”
Bred by George Bolton and David DiPietro, hip 422 hails from the family of Japanese Group 1 winner and OBS March graduate Moanin (Henny Hughes). She was consigned to the sale by de Meric Sales on behalf of Tami Bobo, who purchased the bay filly for just $25,000 at Keeneland September last year.
“We were fortunate enough to get her,” Tristan de Meric remarked. “We heard Tami was going to be spreading out a few horses to different consignors, so we put in our request for that filly. We saw her training on the track and we just loved the filly. We loved her physically and were glad to have her in the barn.”
de Meric added, “The way she went and the way she looked in the barn, we were expecting that she'd do really well and we are glad she did. We are glad she got a good home.”
Grassroots Hits a Home Run with First Samurai
It's been a very successful sale for pinhookers through the first half of OBS April and David McKathan's Grassroots Training and Sales became another example of that when selling a First Samurai colt that was a $90,000 KEESEP yearling into a $540,000 2-year-old Wednesday. Hip 581 was purchased by Kanayama Holdings Co. Ltd.
“He's very athletic, very strong,” McKathan said of the :9 4/5 breezer. “He's something I thought could really be an athlete.”
He continued, “I'd never expect a return like that. We buy a number of horses and a horse like this is what we are hoping to get. A horse like this makes it all worth doing.”
Bred by Hinkle Farms, the chestnut is the first foal out of the unraced Indian Bay (Indian Charlie) and his second dam is Grade II winner Buy the Barrel (E Dubai).
“[Hinkle Farms] brought him in [to Keeneland September] looking like a nice horse, but we were lucky enough to get him bought at $90,000,” McKathan explained. “I very easily could have been outbid on the horse because I was about done. Keeneland is a huge place and horses do get by. They do slip through because you can't be everywhere at once up there.”
McKathan was one of many consignors finding pinhooking success with a horse bought as a yearling for less than $100,000. For example, the Orb colt that topped Tuesday's opening session (hip 28) was a $30,000 KEESEP yearling turned $685,000 juvenile and a Quality Road filly (hip 422) purchased for $25,000 as a KEESEP yearling became a $500,000 2-year-old Wednesday.
“I think there are a number of pinhookers that have been doing this for a lot of years and the guys who have survived this have a pretty good idea about what an athlete should be, McKathan commented. “You bring a horse here, he doesn't have to hit the limelight to be a really good horse and people know that.” —@CDeBernardis
Morning Line Success for Small Batch
Bloodstock agent Fletcher Mauk went into last year's Keeneland September Yearling Sale specifically looking for offspring of freshman sires for his pinhooking group Small Batch Thoroughbreds and ended up purchasing a colt by Morning Line for $25,000. Returned to the sales ring Wednesday at OBS, the juvenile sold for $240,000 to the bid of Westbury Stables.
“He was a really wide-bodied horse, real wide off of his spine, and I like a horse that has a lot of muscle,” Mauk recalled. “And he had a fluid walk with a nice, solid straight line across his back from his head to his tail. It was the last day of the sale and no one was there. So I had a sort of an advantage in that everyone was spent out or burned out, I'm not sure which.”
Asked if there was any concern in buying pinhooking prospects by young stallions, Mauk said, “I used to think there was, but the market seems to want those horses now. I think everybody is looking for that next champion and realistically there is going to be one or two good sires out of a crop that turn out to be top sires. So I was actually looking for freshman sires last year. I got burned last year on buying horses that were slightly forgotten–nice solid athletic sires that produce good racehorses, but they were suddenly out of fashion. So I decided to go into fashionable horses.”
GI Carter H. winner Morning Line (Tiznow), who stands at Lane's End for $10,000, soon became a favorite target.
“I tried to buy some Morning Lines earlier in the sale and got outbid,” Mauk admitted. “So I kept landing on them, and kept saying this sire is getting really nice-looking horses. I loved them in September.”
Morning Line has had one other 2-year-old go through the ring at OBS this week. Hip 116 sold for $250,000 to West Point Thoroughbreds. Consigned by Randy Miles, the black colt was a $45,000 Keeneland September Yearling.
“I hate to even say it's their walk, but it's their walk,” Mauk said of the appeal of the Morning Lines he has seen. “They move like they are on a conveyor belt. They are so smooth and so solid, they cover a lot of ground. And it's not like it's a big overstride, it's just fluid. I think that adds to the way they move on the track.” @JessMartiniTDN