by Brian DiDonato and Steve Sherack
OCALA, Florida–Continued strength at the top end and a diverse buying bench fueled by an influx of new money led to a strong day of trade at the opening session of the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's March Sale of 2-Year-Olds Tuesday.
A total of 137 juveniles changed hands for gross receipts of $26,320,500, good for an average of $192,120 and median of $110,000. The RNA rate was 34.1%.
At the conclusion of last year's first session, 160 horses sold for $25,718,500. The average was $160,741 and median was $115,000. After OBS added subsequent post-sale transactions, the gross climbed to $26,418,500, while the average ended up at $156,322 and median was $110,000.
Hip 127, an Orb colt consigned by Crupi's New Castle Farm, Agent V topped the session with a $1.25-million winning bid from agents Solis and Litt. There were several new buyers at the top end of the market, including Saudi Arabian Amr Zedan, Margaret Fauber's Rattler Racing and agent Kerri Radcliffe.
“I think we got off to a good start,” OBS president Tom Ventura said. “It certainly was very strong at the top end. Of the top 10 horses sold, there were nine different buyers. So, at the top, there was a lot of competition. Below that, it was similar to what we've seen at previous sales, but some of the RNAs have been getting sold, so from that aspect we'll wait until the sale's over before making a complete assessment.”
Of the fresh faces on the buyers' list, Ventura said, “It's exciting to see new buyers come in at any level, but when they come in at the very top, it's even better. The money was spread out domestically and internationally, and certainly it's more than welcome to see some new players.”
Ventura also noted that Tuesday marked the 10-year anniversary of when subsequent Grade I-winning juvenile and popular sire Into Mischief (Harlan's Holiday) was purchased by B. Wayne Hughes for $180,000. Into Mischiefs sold Tuesday for up to $550,000.
The second and final session of the March sale kicks off Wednesday at 10:30 a.m.
Orb Colt Out of This World at OBS March
A colt from the first crop of 2013 GI Kentucky Derby winner Orb (Malibu Moon) was the only juvenile to reach the seven-figure mark at OBS March Tuesday, topping the first day of trade when bringing $1.25 million from the partnership of the Roth family's LNJ Foxwoods and Nancy Favreau and Kathy Psoinos.
The fledgling LNJ Foxwoods has already been represented by Grade I winners Constellation (Bellamy Road) and Nickname (Scat Daddy), while the latter two women teamed up to campaign 2014 GI Hopeful S. winner and Coolmore sire Competitive Edge (Super Saver).
“We're big fans of the sire,” advisor Alex Solis II said of Orb after signing the ticket out back. “We have [the Orb colt's] half-sister [$650,000 FTSAUG graduate] Wrath of Ruthie (Distorted Humor), who we thought was probably one of the best fillies we've ever had that didn't get black-type. She ended up getting hurt. When we saw him breeze… the gallop-out was very strong. He's done everything right. If you saw him back here [at the barn], he was really calm and collected, and just really a well-balanced individual. He was a $350,000 [KEESEP] yearling. I couldn't be more excited.”
Orb was very well-received at last year's yearling sales, leading all freshman sires by average ($148,318), according to TDN Sales Statistics. Orb was also represented by a $500,000 colt at the Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream 2-Year-Old Sale. He commands a $25,000 stud fee at Claiborne Farm.
“As yearlings, we liked them,” Solis said of Orb's progeny. “[Partner Jason Litt and I] weren't lucky enough to get any–we tried. We were really impressed with them all winter and we went out and bought a share in Orb for the Roths about a month ago. We were pretty high on the stallion. When we got here at the first sale [Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream], we saw them breeze well and watching them breeze well again at this sale gave us a good feeling.”
Solis concluded, “Hopefully we get lucky here, it would be a nice home run for the Roths.”
Solis added that Tuesday's OBS March session topper was headed to WinStar Farm in Kentucky and that a trainer would be decided at a later date. Solis/Litt also signed for Hip 27, a colt by freshman sire Animal Kingdom from the Eddie Woods consignment, for $550,000.
Consigned as Hip 127 by Crupi's New Castle Farm, Agent V, the bay son of Orb glided through an eighth of a mile workout in :10 at the breeze show. Produced by the unraced Forest Wildcat mare Remember, the Mar. 24 foal was bred in Kentucky by Dattt Farm. She is also represented by a Will Take Charge yearling colt and was bred back to Pioneerof the Nile. Remember is a half-sister to GISW Dancing Forever (Rahy).
“Just look at him–he looked like a man as a yearling and he's really a man now,” Jimmy Crupi said while pointing out the juvenile back at Barn 6 on a very unseasonably cool afternoon in Ocala. “Class–he just stands there. And when you ask him, he's ready to go. I've bought three Orbs and they can really run. These are runners. He's definitely going to make a sire. Every Orb at this sale could run. He just ran a little faster.”
Hip 127's second dam is GISP Dancinginmydreams (Seeking the Gold)–herself a full-sister to champion Heavenly Prize and GISW Oh What a Windfall. -@SteveSherackTDN
Fauber Doubles Her Stable Size
Margaret Fauber stepped up big time Tuesday afternoon to add a pricey purchase to her fledgling stable, Rattler Racing. The Key Largo, FL resident, who is president of her family's American Metal Chemical Corporation, went to $950,000 for a Curlin colt (hip 223) who breezed a furlong in an easy-looking :10 1/5.
A $120,000 KEESEP RNA, the chestnut half-brother to flashy California 2-year-old MSW Wake Up Nick (Cindago) was consigned by Marne Fauber and Heidi Cecil's Imagine… Margaret Fauber is Marne Fauber's mother.
“I was familiar with him, I knew he'd been training really well and I saw that everybody–all the smart people-went to look at him,” said Margaret Fauber, who did her bidding alongside agent Mersad Metanovic. “You watch him breeze and think 'Golly, that's got to be slow.' But it's way faster than you think–he does it so easily.”
Metanovic noted that added familiarity with the colt gave he and Fauber more confidence to put up big money.
“At the end of the day, he was the best 2-year-old colt in the sale–that's our opinion,” he said. “We also watched him train on dirt [at Imagine…], and if they thought he worked well here, he worked like King Kong on a dirt track. He was exceptional.”
Fauber said she has not yet decided on a trainer for her new purchase, but noted that she would be bringing in some of her friends to partner on the horse. She also has a 2-year-old by Curlin's sire Smart Strike acquired last year as a yearling. –@BDiDonatoTDN
$950K SCAT DADDY COLT TO LIVE OAK
Live Oak Plantation's Bruce Hill won a prolonged battle to take home a well-related Florida-bred son of the late Scat Daddy for $950,000 as session one of the OBS March Sale hit the homestretch late Tuesday afternoon. The dark bay, consigned by breeder Ocala Stud as Hip 295, worked a quarter mile in :21 3/5 at the breeze show.
“Just all the typical stuff,” Hill, sitting alongside trainer Mark Casse, replied when asked what he liked about the Valentine's Day foal. “He ticked off all the boxes–all the cliches. We really liked him a lot and we really value Ocala Stud and their comments and the way they handle their horses and take care of them–we think that's a big plus.”
Hill continued, “More than likely Mark Casse will train–it's not absolute though. [The price] was right where we thought it would land.”
Longtime prominent owner Charlotte Weber continues to be a somewhat new and major player at the top-end at the 2-year-old sales in recent years, including the purchase of the $1.4-million Bernardini sale topper at OBS March in 2015. Live Oak also purchased three juveniles for a total of $1.25 million at the Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream Sale earlier this month, headed by a $500,000 Into Mischief colt.
“We just shifted gears a little bit–Ms. Weber did,” Hill said of targeting the juvenile sales the past few years. “It just cuts out a little bit of the attrition.”
The winning mare West Side Dancer (Gone West), a $250,000 KEESEP yearling acquisition campaigned by the late E. Paul Robsham, has already produced Travelin Man (Trippi), GSW, $330,734; Discreet Dancer (Discreet Cat), GSW & GISP, $365,900; Sweet N Discreet (Discreet Cat), SW & GSP, $366,447; and has another very exciting prospect at the races right now. Her 3-year-old filly Florida Fabulous (High Cotton), a $400,000 OBS April graduate, earned 'TDN Rising Star' honors after airing at first asking by 10 3/4 lengths for e Five Racing Thoroughbreds and trainer David Fawkes at Gulfstream Feb. 16. West Side Dancer had a More Than Ready colt in 2016 and was bred back to Liam's Map. -@SteveSherackTDN
O'Neill Gets 'Rags' Colt for New Saudi Client
New money was a trend at the top end of Tuesday's OBS March auction, and agent Dennis O'Neill was one of those spending it. He stretched to $950,000 late in the day to scoop up hip 323 for new Saudi Arabian client Amr Zedan.
Out of SW Alexandra Rylee (Afleet Alex)–who shipped in from Pennsylvania to Saratoga to take an always-tough Travers Day 2-year-old maiden special weight first out in 2010–the Feb. 16 foal was consigned by Bobby Dodd, Agent I on behalf of Brad Grady's Grand Oaks. The $135,000 KEESEP buy breezed in a sharp :10 flat.
“He's new to the business,” O'Neill said of Zedan. “He's a polo guy from Saudi Arabia. He spends a lot of time in Dubai. In fact, they just won the Dubai Gold Cup polo match last Friday… Now he's getting into Thoroughbreds, wants to compete at the top end and I told him this was the best horse in the sale and he said, 'Let's get him.' We went a little higher than we wanted to, but obviously we were in love with him.”
Zedan is chairman and CEO of Zedan Group, a holding company for several companies in the infrastructure and energy sectors.
Zedan was born in California and still spends time in the States, and hip 323 will be based out west with Doug O'Neill.
“We analyzed his stride a little bit and he had a huge stride on him,” Dennis O'Neill said of the colt. “His gallop-out was absolutely fantastic. He just had a beautiful way of going. I love the way he goes, and physically he's gorgeous. He vetted good, so he hit all the bells and whistles, and obviously we had to pay for it.”
O'Neill said he had found competition tough at the top end, and admitted he paid a bit more than he wanted to for hip 323.
“The good ones are really, really hard to buy,” he said. There were a couple we tried to buy earlier that we had to stop on. For this horse, we probably overpaid. We wanted to be at $700,000 or $800,000, but Mr. Zedan let us keep going… It's kind of the same old thing, where the top end is really hard, and the middle and lower ones, you kind of get what you want. When you do something like this, you've got to be right, or you're in deep trouble. So we'll see how long I keep it going with this new deal.” –@BDiDonatoTDN
Familiar Faces Land Exchange Rate Filly
The dynamic duo of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert and bloodstock agent Donato Lanni stretched to $850,000 to take home an Exchange Rate filly Tuesday for Susan and Charlie Chu's Baoma Corp. The bay was consigned by Eddie Woods, Agent IX as hip 211, and stopped the clock in :20 4/5.
“At this sale, for those horses that check all the boxes, everybody comes out for them,” Lanni said. “It's tough to do everything they're supposed to do here, and they're really tough to buy. She's a nice filly. She jumped every hoop. She did well on the racetrack–she did her job and looked good at the barn.”
Exchange Rate died last January at age 19, but has had a recent renaissance on the track, led by 'TDN Rising Stars' El Areeb and Stallion Heiress. The former, a $340,000 OBSMAR grad last year, is a Triple Crown candidate off the strength of his victories in the GIII Jerome S. and GIII Withers S. Stallion Heiress upped her record to a perfect three-for-three with a front-running stakes score over the Fair Grounds turf this past Saturday.
“I don't think I've ever bought an Exchange Rate,” Lanni revealed. When asked if that was a lot to pay for a horse by that sire, he replied, “That's a lot to pay for any horse.”
Hip 211 is the first foal out of stakes-placed juvenile Spring Jump (Jump Start).
The Chus have only been involved in racing for the past five years or so, but have enjoyed uncommon success in that short time. They campaign Baffert-trained 2016 champion sprinter and 'Rising Star' Drefong (Gio Ponti), and have also been represented by the likes of graded stakes winners Chitu (Henny Hughes) and Super Ninety Nine (Pulpit). –@BDiDonatoTDN
Motion Gets Full-Sis to Palace
Trainer Graham Motion, bidding on behalf of a new, undisclosed client, fended off bids seemingly from all over the OBS complex to secure a full-sister to multiple Grade I-winning sprinter Palace (City Zip) for $700,000 Tuesday afternoon. Consigned by Eddie Woods, Agent XVIII as hip 116 on behalf of her breeder Gainesway Thoroughbreds, the bay covered a quarter in :21 flat during Thursday's breeze show.
“I loved the filly's breeze,” Motion offered. “Jane Buchanan, my stable manager, was here and watched all the breezes and she was very impressed with her. I liked her when I looked at her yesterday, and I liked her even more this morning. Plus she's a full to a Grade I winner–you can't do much better than that.”
Gainesway paid $400,000 for hip 116's dam Receivership (End Sweep)–a seven-time winner and half-sister to MGSW 2-year-old and subsequent GSW producer French Park (Ecton Park)–while she was carrying hip 116 at the 2014 Fasig-Tipton November sale. Palace had completed a Saratoga sprint double for owner Antonino Miuccio and trainer Linda Rice in the GI Alfred G. Vanderbilt H. and GI Forego S. that August. Palace himself was a $160,000 acquisition by Doug Cauthen at this sale in 2011. Palace is in his second season at stud at Spendthrift Farm, where he commands a $6,000 fee.
“Plain and simple, she's a City Zip and she's beautiful,” Woods said after congratulating Motion and Buchanan. “I didn't think she'd bring what she did, but that's the way it is–[buyers] jump on the nice horses and that's what it takes.”
As for her pedigree appeal, last year's leading consignor added, “We're not at a broodmare sale–we're at a 2-year-old sale–but she's worked good, she looks great and she has the pedigree: her brother's a fashionable [young] sire in Kentucky.”
Receivership produced a colt by Gainesway's superstar stallion Tapit in 2016. –@BDiDonatoTDN
Radcliffe 'More Than Ready' for OBS March
Bloodstock agent Kerri Radcliffe went to $600,000 to secure a daughter of More Than Ready at Tuesday's first session of the OBS March 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale. The bay will be heading to Europe to join her husband Jeremy Noseda's yard at Shalfleet in Newmarket.
Noseda has enjoyed success with the WinStar stallion before.
He conditioned Nemoralia (More Than Ready), heroine of the G3 Sky Bet City of York S., runner-up in the GI Frizette S. and third in the GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. Nemoralia, campaigned by Peter Brant and Joseph Allen, was acquired for $170,000 at this same auction two years ago.
Radcliffe didn't disclose who she was shopping for Tuesday.
“I love More Than Ready, he's a great stallion,” Radcliffe, sporting a black Nemoralia jacket, said out back. “She's a special filly coming from a great consignor.”
Radcliffe was also an active buyer at the Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream Sale, signing for an $800,000 Scat Daddy filly and a $750,000 Uncle Mo filly. She later added a $625,000 colt (Hip 153) by Super Saver from Nick de Meric's consignment at OBS March.
“The Scat Daddy filly is going to Europe with Jeremy as well,” Radcliffe revealed. “The Uncle Mo is going to Bob Baffert.”
Consigned by Niall Brennan Stables, Agent III, the More Than Ready filly (Hip 43) breezed an eighth in :10 at the OBS March under-tack show. She previously brought $200,000 at last year's KEESEP sale.
“She's a very special filly,” Brennan said after thanking the aforementioned husband-and-wife team. “I've been lucky to have three graded-stakes winning fillies by More Than Ready. And she's the best one I've ever had. I'm very confident of that. She's got a lovely pedigree. He gets fillies, colts, dirt, turf… She's a filly for the future. She's a May  foal. She showed her brilliance. I think she'll do it all.”
Hip 43 was bred in Kentucky by CFP Thoroughbreds. Her dam Music Score (Storm Cat), a half-sister to G1 Dewhurst S. heroine Distant Music (Distant View), was purchased by Carl Pollard for $180,000 at the 2011 KEENOV sale. Music Score, most recently bred to Flatter, hit the board in her lone start over the Tampa Bay turf in 2010. -@SteveSherackTDN
Speedy Breezer Makes Huge Score for Pate
Ocala horsemen Danny Pate and Robert Vickers were all smiles as they walked out of the sales pavilion midway through Tuesday's OBS March session. Pate paid just $30,000 for a Super Saver colt at last year's Keeneland September sale, but the bay blossomed down in Florida, and turned in an unblinkered :20 1/5 breeze–the co-fastest quarter in OBS history–last week. Consigned to the sale by Pate's friend Nick de Meric, the May 21 foal (hip 153) went to Kerri Radcliffe for $625,000 (see Radcliffe 'More Than Ready' for OBS March for more).
“He had great breezes at home, too,” beamed Pate, who operates Solitary Oak Farm at the Starting Point Horse Complex in Morriston. “Robert was working him one day at home and he worked faster than any horse we'd ever had over that track–and we've had some good horses: The Cliff's Edge, Premium Tap, Showing Up. So we just kind of slowed him down a little bit. Then we prepped him here with blinkers and he went in :21 1/5. [WinStar Farm's] Elliott Walden was watching him, and he had his head up and he was climbing a little bit. So we took the blinkers off, and the rest is history.”
When asked about the colt's attributes, Pate responded: “He's so smart–nothing bothers him. He's never had a cold, never had a sore spot, never had a gram of bute. He's just a good all-around horse.”
Out of stakes-placed Sandi's Ready, hip 153's year-older half-sister Sandy's Surprise (Drosselmeyer) was a maiden special weight winner at Santa Anita last term. Bruce Grossman paid $12,000 for Sandi's Ready in foal to Artie Schiller at last year's Keeneland January sale. –@BDiDonatoTDN
Another Pair of Homers for Pete Bradley
After a sensational showing at last year's OBS March Sale, Pete Bradley was back at it again during Tuesday's opening session of the two-day auction.
Selling through longtime pinhooking partner Eddie Woods, Bradley was represented by:
•Hip 27, a $550,000 colt from the first crop of Animal Kingdom–Miss Lombardi (SW, $301,670), by Unbridled Jet – purchased by Solis/Litt; breezed in :21; $100,000 KEESEP yearling purchase; 1/2 to Miss Bullistic (Bullsbay), SW, $183,270.
•Hip 211, an $850,000 filly by Exchange Rate–Spring Jump (MSP, $121,883), by Jump Start – purchased by Baoma Corp; breezed in :20 4/5; $125,000 KEESEP yearling purchase.
“When you have real nice horses, the market pays for them,” Bradley said with a smile. “There's not much room for error and there was no error on these two. Again, I said it last year when we had a big day here. When you have a horse that does everything right–moves forward, jumps through the hoops, passes the vet and looks like a real racehorse–hopefully, you reap these rewards because the ones who don't do it, there's no bottom on right now. That's what you need when you're pinhooking–a couple of home runs.”
Last year's OBS March class for Bradley included: GI Del Mar Futurity winner and 'TDN Rising Star' Klimt (Quality Road) ($140,000 FTKJUL turned $435,000 OBS March 2yo); GII San Vicente S. winner Iliad (Ghostzapper) ($80,000 KEESEP turned $285,000 OBS March 2yo); GIII Sanford S. hero and 'TDN Rising Star' Bitumen (Mineshaft) ($110,000 KEESEP turned $280,000 OBS March 2yo); and GIII Sanford S. runner-up and 'TDN Rising Star' Random Walk (Super Saver) ($80,000 FTKJUL turned $300,000 OBS March 2yo).
“Eddie Woods is such a big part of this,” Bradley added. “Last year we had four horses in here that were exceptional and all four of them are now graded stakes horses. Those two horses that we had today have that potential and I hope for the buyers that potential bears out.”
Bradley will be represented by two more pinhooks Wednesday–Hip 418, a filly by Union Rags-Category Seven (:21 4/5); and Hip 628, a colt by Orb-Jaramar Rain (:21 4/5). @SteveSherackTDN