OBS March sale shows strength after tough 2020
Mike Baker, a bid taker, looks for a higher bid on a thoroughbred during the OBS March Two-Year-Olds In Training sale at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company in Ocala, Fla. on Wednesday, March 17, 2021. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette] 2021.
A total of 326 horses sold for more than $38.2 million this year compared to 295 horses which sold for more than $27.3 million in 2020.
Last year, the sale was one of the few events not to cancel due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite this year’s rebound, gross sales were still lower than in 2019, when 306 sold for more than $44.2 million.
“It was another good solid day of selling horses,” said Tod Wojciechowski, OBS director of sales. “We’re very pleased with how the sale wrapped up. It seemed to hold its strength all the way to the end.”
There was a strong presence of international buyers both in-person and online, said Wojciechowski.
“It was nice to see their participation, but certainly the domestic spending was good as well,” he said.
Ocala’s Jimbo and Torie Gladwell sold the highest-price horse on Wednesday’s closing day. The owners of Top Line Sales sold hip No. 311, a daughter of multiple grade one winner Practical Joke, for $750,000. Hideyuki Mori bought the horse.
“She’s always been a very straightforward filly, laid back. When we first bought her, we turned all the horses out, and she about tried to kill herself. She was running in the paddock and slid into a fence and sliced her chest up,” said Torie Gladwell.
While she got off to the rough start, the filly settled into training.
“I was devastated that she got hurt,” said Gladwell.
The sale’s second-highest priced horse came late in the catalog as hip No. 547, a daughter of the 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah. She sold for $600,000. The filly was consigned by Ciaran Dunne’s Wavertree Stable.
Eugenio Columbo purchased the filly.
“She was my number one pick for conformation, mental attitude and the way she walked and moved,” Columbo said.
The filly was an impressive specimen, Dunne said.
“Physically, she’s all you would want in a horse,” he said. “We had a lot of action on her, all the right people, and it was just a question of leaving her up there and see what would happen.”
The sales highest-priced colt was a son of Kantharos that posted the co-fastest breeze time for a quarter-mile, covering the distance in 20 2/5 seconds. Woodford Thoroughbreds consigned the colt, listed as hip No. 357. Ned Toffey, agent for Spendthrift Farm and Myracehorse.com, bought the colt for $575,000.
“This colt is strong. Obviously, the fastest breeze in 20 and 2. Did everything right like we expected, jumped through all the hoops, vetted, showed himself right every time,” said Beth Bayer of Woodford Thoroughbreds.
Attendance at the sale was up over last year when many stayed away just days after a global pandemic was declared. Racetracks across the country canceled racing, and the auction market suffered. The solid prices this week, however, had some filled with hope.
“Coming into the sale, the showing and the actual buzz was really there; felt good,” Beth Bayer said. “Everyone was really excited and happy to be here, back into some normality. Day one showed that people wanted to spend money and buy horses. Everybody was ready to get back to normal.”
Joe Pickerrell of Pick View LLC sold a son of Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Liam’s Map during the sale’s opening session for $525,000 and was encouraged by the turnout.
“People want to be out here. A lot of people, after they got things stabilized last year, made a lot of money,” Pickerrell said. “For some of these people, this is what they want to do. They want to be out here, looking at the horses and buying horses. It’s nice to see everyone out here doing what they love.”
Eddie Woods, who was the sales leading consignor, was pleased with the barn activity and with the depth of buyers and people looking at horses.
“We didn’t expect it,” said Woods. “We know there’s s a pandemic, but a lot of people still made a lot of money in the stock market or in one thing or another. The whole way through the spring, it’s been very vibrant as people have wanted to come and look at horses. We haven’t had show days like the last two or three days here in years. The traffic, the vetting, the people, the place has a whole different feel. When you walk around here at 11 o’clock in the morning, you see people everywhere.”