By Jessica Martini
OCALA, FL – The Ocala Breeders' Sales Company June Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training opened Wednesday in Central Florida with a day of steady bidding. In all, 187 juveniles sold for $6,119,500. The average was $32,725–down 11.8% from last year's opening session–and the median rose 11.1% to $20,000. With 263 horses offered, 76 horses were reported not sold for a buy-back rate of 28.9%.
A colt by Tapit (hip 277) brought the day's highest price when selling for $400,000 to Mickey Gonzalez's M Racing from the Pick View consignment. The day's highest-priced filly was a daughter of Constitution (hip 256) who sold for $280,000 to Phil and Christine Hatfield from the Potrero Stables consignment. In all, five juveniles sold for $200,000 or over.
“I think it's good,” Pick View's Joe Pickerell said of the market during the first session of the June sale. “We brought seven up here and sold six through the ring and we've maybe got something going on the other one. There are people here to buy horses at all levels and that's a good testament to OBS. They did a good job getting the buyers here. We were a little unsure bringing a horse with that pedigree and that kind of physical here, but they did their part and got the people here to look at him.”
De Meric Sales was the session's leading consignor, with seven sold for $667,500. Tristan de Meric was seeing a fairly typical June marketplace.
“I've found it fair, but the market is definitely a bit spotty,” de Meric said. “Overall, it's been about what we expected. The right horse is still selling, and selling pretty well, but it's been tough for some of the others. It's a typical June market and typical to the trends we've seen in the last couple of years. There are still buyers for the good horse and I think there are still some good horses to come.”
While the good horses continue to attract plenty of attention, bloodstock agent Mike Mulligan is taking a wait-and-see approach to the middle and lower end market.
“There are 10 or 15 standouts, maybe 20 standouts in this sale,” Mulligan said. “Maybe another 100 or 150 that are going to be in the trading market between $25,000 to $100,000 to $150,000. And then what's going to happen with the rest of the horses? We'll see.”
The OBS June sale continues through Friday with bidding beginning daily at 10 a.m.
Tapit Colt Tops OBS June Opener
When Mickey Gonzalez woke up Wednesday morning, he had no intention of buying a juvenile at OBS, but the longtime owner made the biggest bid of the day when going to $400,000 to acquire a colt by Tapit (hip 277) from the Pick View consignment. Gonzalez, standing alongside bloodstock agent Christina Jelm, did his bidding out back for the half-brother to Grade I winner Verrazano (More Than Ready), who will be trained by Jerry Hollendorfer.
“I am a good friend of Christina and Jerry,” Gonzalez said. “I just bought a farm here in Ocala and every time they are coming to the auction, they stay at my home. I was not going to buy horses until the Keeneland sales, but this morning at 5:30, Christina convinced me to see the workout of this horse and I really loved the horse. I am here, last minute, having a hamburger and then I just bought a horse. It wasn't my intention originally, but my good friend Christina made me see the workout and check out the horse and I really loved him. I think I bought a really great horse.”
Gonzalez, who was born in New York and grew up in Puerto Rico, races as M Racing Group and has owned horses since 1971. He has campaigned graded stakes winner Tonito M, winner of the 2014 GIII Oklahoma Derby, and Who's Up, who won the 2009 GIII Generous S.
“Racing has been my passion all of my life and I've been in the horse business as a hobby for 43 years,” Gonzalez, who is in the insurance business, said. “I have a lot of health conditions and I live in Las Vegas. I am moving from the metropolis to a quiet place to relax and take care of my health. That's the reason I am moving to Ocala. So it's not a commercial farm, it's just for me to enjoy.”
Asked if he might be buying additional horses Wednesday, Gonzalez said with a laugh, “I am going back to my farm to rest and put my pajamas on.”
The chestnut colt, out of Enchanted Rock (Giant's Causeway), is also a half to graded winner El Padrino (Pulpit). It was the youngster's second trip through the sales ring this year. He RNA'd for $325,000 after working a furlong in :10 3/5 at the Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream Sale in March.
“He worked a lot better here,” Pick View's Joe Pickerell said. “He's really changed a lot since that sale and we're just glad that all of the buyers agreed with us on how nice a horse we thought he was all year.”
Pickerell purchased the colt for $190,000 under the name Slate Mills Equine at last year's Fasig-Tipton October sale.
“He was a beautiful physical with a great walk to him and he was a big colt,” Pickerell said of the colt's appeal last fall. “We just felt like he was going to do good throughout the winter. We actually thought, with his pedigree, we wouldn't be able to get him in the fall, but we got lucky and it worked out.”
Distorted Humor Colt to Casse
Bloodstock agent Justin Casse purchased a colt by Distorted Humor for $290,000 during Wednesday's opening session of the OBS June sale. The colt (hip 254), consigned by de Meric Sales on behalf of Tami Bobo, worked the furlong in a co-bullet :9 4/5 during last week's under-tack preview.
“He breezed fast and he's a beautiful-looking horse,” Casse said of the juvenile. “I know he was here in March, but he performed when he was asked both times and that's important.”
The bay, purchased privately by Bobo as a weanling, worked a quarter-mile in :20 3/5 prior to the OBS March sale, where he RNA'd for $245,000. Casse said he had been mildly interested in the colt in March.
“Slightly, if you want to call it that,” Casse said of his interest in the colt two months ago. “We weren't prepared and I made a half-hearted effort and then of course he showed back up and they were rewarded for doing so because the horse proved himself again.”
Hip 254 is out of the unraced Driven (Forestry) and is a half-brother to multiple stakes placed Glamoride (Ide).
Bobo was rewarded for the decision to take the colt home from the March sale.
“I am very happy with that result,” Bobo said Wednesday. “I felt like he was worth the $245,000 he RNA'd for in March, for sure. And he came back and he showed everyone he could do it again with a :9 4/5. I think he's a phenomenal colt and I wish the buyers the best of luck. From now, we just hope he's in the right hands to go on. Justin Casse is signing the ticket, so it looks like he made it into the right hands. We are excited for the horse and his future.”
Daredevil Colt to Head West
A colt by Daredevil (hip 100), who turned in the co-fastest quarter-mile breeze of :20 3/5 during last week's under-tack preview, will be joining the Southern California barn of trainer Doug O'Neill after being purchased by Paul Reddam's Reddam Racing for $245,000 during Wednesday's first session of the OBS June sale. Steve Venosa signed the ticket on the dark bay juvenile.
“We felt that he was the outstanding physical of the sale,” Venosa said. “He worked well on the racetrack and he showed well. He did everything right.”
The colt is from the first crop of GI Champagne S. winner Daredevil (More Than Ready), who was represented by his first winner at Hamilton hours after he sold. The juvenile is out of Bible (U S Ranger) and from the family of Grade I winner Corinthian.
He was purchased by Ciaran Dunne's Redwings pinhooking partnership for $72,000 at last year's Fasig-Tipton July sale.
“We bought the horse with Reddam to pinhook,” Dunne explained. “He's a horse we've always liked. Paul was high on him. He said his number where he would sell or stay in and he didn't, obviously, reach the number where he wanted to sell. So he'll buy us out and he'll take him and run him.”
The colt had originally been targeted at the OBS April sale, but was re-ticketed for the June sale after having a curb pin-fired this spring. Venosa said the setback wasn't a concern.
“It was addressed and the horse came here and showed up and did what he needed to do,” Venosa said.
Of the colt's final price tag, Dunne admitted, “I really don't understand it. We thought he was one of the fastest horses we've brought to market this year. He couldn't have performed any better than he did. It just didn't happen for him today. It's just one of those things. You just move on.”
Despite the June sale's position as the final stop on the juvenile auction calendar, Venosa said there were still buyers for the top horses.
“There are good horsemen here looking at and evaluating horses,” he said. “They can separate the good ones from the bad ones. We'll find out if this was one of the good ones.”
Morton Adds to Stable
Tobey Morton added another 2-year-old to his racing stable when bloodstock agent Mike Mulligan signed the ticket at $230,000 to acquire a filly by Quality Road Wednesday in Ocala. The youngster will be trained by John Kimmel.
“Tobey Morton is a really good client of John Kimmel,” Mulligan said. “I really liked the filly, obviously on the racetrack and through everything that she did. She jumped through all the hoops for us both.”
The filly (hip 186) is out of Comfort and Joy (Harlan's Holiday) and is a half-sister to stakes winner Giza Goddess (Cairo Prince). She worked a furlong in :10 flat during last week's under-tack preview. She was consigned by de Meric Sales and was purchased by de Meric Stables for $170,000 as a weanling at the 2017 Keeneland November sale.
Of the filly's final price tag Wednesday, Mulligan said, “We weren't thinking she was going to cost $300,000 or $400,000. I thought she would cost $200,000+, maybe $250,000, so we were happy with that. We didn't feel like we really had to stretch.”
“The horses that we bought for him at Timonium are training really, really well. They are both with John as well,” Mulligan said.
Morton campaigns multiple graded placed Pacific Gale (Flat Out) with Kimmel.
Garcia Blanco Stays Busy at OBS
Veterinarian Jose Garcia Blanco was perhaps one of the busiest men in Ocala Wednesday, purchasing 31 juveniles on behalf of Puerto Rico's horse owners association for a total of $294,000 and an average of $9,484. The group will be shipped to Puerto Rico where the individual horses will be raffled off among the owners.
“The horse owners association in Puerto Rico comes here and tells me, 'We want so many horses,'” Garcia Blanco explained. “They take those horses down to Puerto Rico, they add up all of the expenses–the horses, the shipping, the vetting–and they set the price. Then the horses are raffled off. That way, the big guys cannot dominate the scene.”
The most expensive purchase of the day for Garcia Blanco, who signed tickets as C H P R, was a $24,000 filly by Biondetti (hip 241).
“Our average at this sale should be between $10,000 and $12,000,” he said. “We try to keep it around $10,000, so by the time we take them to Miami and do the vet work, they take them on an airplane to Puerto Rico, it's going to be $14,000. So the average price down there will be $14,000.”
Garcia Blanco was born in Boston, Massachusetts, but grew up in Puerto Rico.
“My father is from Spain and my mother is from Puerto Rico,” he said. “When I was nine months old, I went to Puerto Rico and I lived there until I was 17 when I went to school in the States.”
He's been shopping at the June sale on behalf of Puerto Rican buyers for several years now.
“Before our economy was better and the prices of the horses were not that high, we would never come to the June sale,” he said. “We came to the April sale and I remember April sales where we would buy 100 horses between all the clients and the group, we would take 100 or 110 horses. As our economy declined, the equine industry got more expensive and more expensive and it got very hard for us to buy horses. So we started coming to the June Sale and we've been doing the June sale probably six or eight years now.”
Garcia Blanco expects to buy around 40 juveniles this week in Ocala.
“As the economy got worse in Puerto Rico, especially after the hurricane, our import population got very thin,” he said. “So we are trying to make an effort [to increase the island's horse population]. This year, we even went to the Louisiana sale and to the Texas sale trying to look for other markets.”
Asked how the racing industry on the island is rebounding from the devastating hurricane which hit Puerto Rico in September 2017, Garcia Blanco said, “There is a unique phenomenon going on in Puerto Rico right now. There is a lot of money coming in to restore the country and as that money comes in, it trickles down to the guy who does the electricity, the carpenter, the guys who work on cement and work the trucks. Those are the guys that play the horses. So handle has been doing surprisingly well.”