By Christie DeBernardis & Jessica Martini
The four-day Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's Spring Sale got off to a strong start Tuesday. A colt from the first crop of Horse of the Year Gun Runner (Hip 118) was the day's hottest commodity, bringing $850,000 from Donato Lanni, acting on behalf of Michael Lund Petersen.
Hip 118 was one of 181 juveniles to sell for a gross of $17,829,500. The average was $98,506 and the median was $50,000. Of the 304 catalogued, 225 were offered with 44 horses leaving the ring unsold for a buy-back rate of 19.56%.
“I thought it was a good start to the sale,” said OBS Director of Sales Tod Wojciechowski. “The numbers looked good and a lot of horses got moved. Hopefully, that trend continues over the next three days.”
Last year's sale, which was delayed until June due to the pandemic, opened with 154 horses changing hands for $13,209,500 with an average of $85,776 and a median of $46,000. Of the 192 horses to go through the ring, 35 failed to sell at the close of business in the 2020 opener for a buy-back rate of 19.79%.
Given the huge economic and travel impacts caused by COVID-19, the 2019 Spring Sale numbers may be a more accurate comparison. During that renewal, 166 2-year-olds brought $15,346,000 with an average of $92,446 and a median of $55,000.
“It was a good step obviously beyond last year and we all know what we had to deal with last year,” Wojciechowski said. “But it is also an improvement over 2019.”
The session featured the usual strong competition for the top lots with 16 horses selling for $300,000 or more.
“There are a lot of horses here, but I think you see all of the right buyers,” said Spendthrift's Ned Toffey, who signed the ticket on the day's second highest-priced horse, a $550,000 son of Distorted Humor (Hip 185). “What I would expect to see is more of what we've seen. There is great activity for the top horses and if you are not one of those, it will be a little tougher sledding. People are being very selective, but it's a good, full parking lot out there and there has been plenty of activity.”
The auction saw a diverse buying bench Tuesday with 12 individual buyers accounting for the top 12 horses sold. The top dozen were also offered by 12 different consignors with Eisaman Equine accounting for the day's top lot.
“One of the great things about April is that buyers get to spread out over horses, so you don't see them concentrating on the same horses as much,” Wojciechowski said. “It is great to see that depth and to the see the activity in the barns.”
Freshman sires proved popular during day one. In addition to Gun Runner, Midnight Storm, Noble Bird, Valiant Minister, Lord Nelson, American Freedom and Klimt all had offspring sell for $250,000 or more.
Fireworks for Gun Runner Colt
The big sales results from the first crop of juveniles by champion Gun Runner (hip 118) continued Tuesday at OBS when a son of the Three Chimneys stallion sold for a session-topping $850,000 to the bid of bloodstock agent Donato Lanni, acting on behalf of Michael Lund Petersen. The gray juvenile will join the $1.7-million son of Gun Runner purchased by Amr Zedan at last month's Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream Sale in the Southern California barn of trainer Bob Baffert.
“He's a beautiful horse,” Lanni said. “Just a cool horse. He did everything he was asked to do and came out of in really good shape. We are just happy to get him. He was the horse we wanted to go home with.”
Of the colt's final price tag, Lanni said, “It's the same thing every year. We all land on the same horses. There is no stealing. It's tough to buy them.”
The colt, who worked a furlong in :10 flat at last week's under-tack show, is out of graded placed Salamera (Successful Appeal) and was consigned by Barry and Shari Eisaman's Eisaman Equine and was bred by the couple's Eico Ventures.
“Barry does a great job,” Lanni said. “He's a good horseman and I'm happy they bred a nice horse.”
The sale was a highwater mark for an Eisaman homebred.
“He is a wonderful horse and we thought he was going to sell well,” Shari Eisaman said as the couple received congratulations out back. “I was going to be thrilled with $500,000. This is the most I've ever sold a homebred for–the homebreds have paid for the farm, they've paid for everything. Thank the Lord.”
The Eisamans purchased Salamera for $300,000 at the 2016 Keeneland November sale. The 11-year-old mare, who was second in the 2012 GII Adirondack S., has an Uncle Mo yearling and she was bred back to Malibu Moon last year.
“Absolutely,” Eisaman said when asked if the result was extra gratifying with a homebred. “When you own the factory, your mares are working when you're sleeping.”
The Eisamans have cut back on their broodmare band in recent years.
“Right now we only have five,” Eisaman said. “Our broodmare band was up to about 30 and a few years ago, we decided we would cut back some. So we cut back a little.”
Asked if Tuesday's result may cause her to add some mares to the band, Eisaman hesitated before smiling and saying, “Maybe.” @JessMartiniTDN
Midnight Storm Colt to WinStar
WinStar Farm capped a big day in the sales ring for freshman sire Midnight Storm when Kenny Troutt's operation paid $550,000 for a son of the Taylor Made stallion late in Tuesday's opening session of the OBS Spring sale.
“We just loved him,” WinStar's Elliott Walden said of hip 297 after signing the ticket in the name of WinStar's racing division Maverick Racing/CMNWLTH. “He was a really nice colt who breezed great (:20 4/5). We felt like he looked a lot like his daddy. We have a few shares in his daddy and bought one at the yearling sale as well. We've been very impressed with the Midnight Storms. I think everybody is. He has had a good sales season.”
Consigned by Woodford Thoroughbreds, which purchased him for $180,000 at last year's Keeneland September sale, the dark bay colt is out of Tasunke (Indian Charlie) and his third dam is Grade I winner Tap to Music (Pleasant Tap).
“We've been waiting all afternoon for this colt to sell,” Woodford's Beth Bayer said. “He is a strong beautiful colt by a freshman sire. We really loved him. [Woodford General Manager] John [Gleason] loved him all season in training. He vetted well and was well received and we got rewarded.”
Midnight Storm, winner of the 2016 GI Shoemaker Mile, stands at Taylor Made Farm for $7,500. In addition to hip 297, the stallion was represented by a colt (hip 264) who worked a furlong in :9 4/5 last week and sold Tuesday for $310,000 to John P. Fort. The juvenile was consigned by G.W. Parrish's Parrish Farms, which purchased him for $34,000 at last year's Keeneland September Yearling Sale.
Rounding out a trio of six-figure yearlings for Midnight Storm Tuesday in Ocala, Brick City Thoroughbreds sold a colt (hip 225) for $150,000 Maxis Stable. The youngster had been a $25,000 Keeneland November weanling purchase.
“It's hard to check every box at these sales because it's not just looks. They have to come out and work good and vet after,” said Taylor Made's Liam Benson. “The general feel is things look pretty good for the horse so far. They still have to get to the races, but at least it's a good start.”
At the OBS March sale, a Midnight Storm filly (hip 344) sold for $240,000 to D J Stable and trainer Linda Rice.
“They are all just pretty,” Benson said of the stallion's offspring. “They all have a gorgeous top line on them. They are just well-made horses. We've been very happy with what we've seen so far. I've bred a couple mares to him myself this year. I am drinking the Kool-Aid. Now we are just hoping it turns into Dom Perignon.” @JessMartiniTDN
Bromagen Hits a Home Run in Ocala
Bo Bromagen may have been having a bit of seller's remorse, but couldn't help but smile after a Distorted Humor colt (Hip 185) he purchased for $170,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Select Sale summoned $550,000 from Spendthrift Farm at OBS Tuesday.
“We knew he was a nice horse,” Bromagen said. “He has been a nice horse all along. If I am being 100% honest, I wanted to keep him. I wanted to keep him up until about two minutes before he went in the sales ring. April [Mayberry] does such a good job of keeping my expectations on a level that is reasonable. I love going to the racetrack. I would keep all of the horses if I could.”
He continued, “I'm not sure this horse wasn't the best one I've ever bought. He showed up and does everything the way you'd want him to do it. He's beautiful and he breezed amazing [:10 1/5]. I am really proud of the job that they did and the product we sold here today. Spendthrift got the right horse for the right price. I am happy for them. Good luck to them. I wish he was still mine.”
Bred by Sierra Farm, the bay is out of GISP Silverpocketsfull (Indian Charlie), who is a daughter of MSW & MGSP Unforgotten (Northern Afleet). Mayberry Farm consigned the colt.
“He is a fast, great-looking colt,” said Spendthrift's Ned Toffey. “He is not totally atypical of the Distorted Humors. He had some pedigree, being out of a Grade I-placed dam. He is a horse that hopefully, after a good racing career, will end up in the stallion barn at Spendthrift. That is the goal. We bought him with MyRacehorse. We are happy to go down that path again.” —@CDeBernardisTDN
Munnings Filly Sets the Early Pace at OBS
A filly by Munnings (hip 44) jumpstarted Tuesday's first session of the OBS Spring sale when selling for $425,000 to the bid of bloodstock agent Gerard Butler, who was acting on behalf of Bahrain-based trainer Fawzi Nass.
“He's looking for some nice-pedigreed fillies and she's one,” Butler said after signing the ticket on the bay filly. “I don't know the plans yet. I would say she'd be here for a little bit and then we'll ship her wherever he wants her to go.”
Out of Private Feeling (Belong to Me), the filly is a half-sister to champion Lookin At Lucky (Smart Strike) and multiple graded winner Kensei (Mr. Greeley). She was consigned by Eddie Woods and worked a quarter-mile last week in :21 flat.
Asked about the filly's appeal, Butler ticked off, “Munnings, great page, a very nice filly, very well-produced by Eddie Woods, as always. She looked immaculate. She ticked all the boxes.”
The filly was bred by SF Bloodstock, which purchased Private Feeling with her in utero for $40,000 at the 2018 Keeneland November sale.
Of the filly's final price Tuesday, Butler said, “If you're going to buy anything nice now you're going to have to pay. You wouldn't get her for any less.” @JessMartiniTDN
Son of Noble Bird Flies High at OBS
A colt from the first crop of Florida-based stallion Noble Bird (Birdstone) was well liked at OBS Tuesday, bringing $400,000 from bloodstock agent Jacob West, who was acting on behalf of Robert and Lawana Low. Hip 104 will join the barn of trainer Todd Pletcher.
“Two years ago I bought a horse by a freshman sire [here] and he turned out to be [GISW] Colonel Liam (Liam's Map),” West said. “I gave $1.2 million for him. I think you have to buy those physicals, turn them over to Todd Pletcher and keep your fingers crossed. To me, he just looked like a big two-turn horse and that is what Mr. and Mrs. Low are looking for. When I ran it up the flag pole with them, they were just scratching their heads. But I just told them I loved the horse and they stood behind me.”
As for the price, West said, “That was my last bid to be quite honest. I heard Mark Casse was the underbidder which makes a lot of sense. He trained Noble Bird and would know one better than anybody else.”
He continued, “That is a lot of money for that horse, but there is a real pedigree underneath him with [MGSW & GISP] C Z Rocket (City Zip) and [MGSW] Giant Expectations (Frost Giant). He comes from a very good consignor in Ocala Stud. They raised him on the farm. They know him better than anybody else. They do a great job and they deserve it.”
Another part of Hip 104's allure was his quick breeze, covering a quarter mile in :20 4/5.
“He breezed incredibly well and galloped out big,” West said. “Our jobs as agents are to find horses that are fast and sound and come from good people.”
Bred in Florida by Herman Wilensky, Hip 104 is out of stakes winner Rosebud's Ridge (Tiger Ridge). Her GSP half-sister Successful Sarah (Successful Appeal) is the dam of C Z Rocket and another half-sister produced Giant Expectations.
“We did expect that from this horse,” said Ocala Stud's David O'Farrell. “He had a super breeze, showed himself extremely well and had all the right interest. He never turned a hair and never had a bad day. He is just a really special colt. You can't expect that figure, but it is not a surprise.”
He continued, “We trained the horse for a new client, Herman Wilensky, who is the breeder. He raised a really good horse and we are fortunate to be train and sell the colt for him.”
Ocala Stud also stands Noble Bird, winner of the 2015 GI Stephen Foster H., as well as two other graded events, for Casse and owner John Oxley.
“It is a great start for Noble Bird,” O'Farrell said. “He has gotten a lot of momentum as we have gotten into the 2-year-old sales. We are just thrilled with the result.” —@CDeBernardisTDN