Thoroughbred sale ends on a hopeful note


The bidding rises to $25,000 on hip 184, a bay filly by Distorted Humor and consigned by Top Line Sales LLC, Agent XX, on the first day of the Two-Year-Olds and Horses of Racing age sale at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company on Southwest 60th Avenue in Ocala, Fla. on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette] 2020.

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Posted July 17, 2020 | By Lisa McGinnes, Staff Writer

The bidding rises to $25,000 on hip 184, a bay filly by Distorted Humor and consigned by Top Line Sales LLC, Agent XX, on the first day of the Two-Year-Olds and Horses of Racing age sale at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company on Southwest 60th Avenue in Ocala, Fla. on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette] 2020.

It’s been a year like no other in the thoroughbred industry.

For the first time since World War II, the first Saturday in May came and went with no Kentucky Derby. The Run for the Roses was rescheduled to September, and what’s usually the third leg of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes, was held first, on June 20 — at an eerily empty racetrack with no spectators in the stands.

The spring horse sales at Ocala Breeders Sales were initially postponed. When the April sale was finally held in June, the Horse Capital of the World distinguished itself digitally — OBS became the first location in North America to offer online bidding in a thoroughbred sale.

While the numbers for this week’s sale of 2-Year-Olds and Horses of Racing Age, held Tuesday through Thursday, were not as good as last year, many feel the sale results were good enough amid pandemic conditions. Virtual bidding remained a popular option for buyers.

“We actually started with the online bidding in our last sale in June,” said OBS Director of Sales Tod Wojciechowski. “We used it in this sale and are very pleased with the results of the online bidding, particularly since being able to conduct a sale in current conditions is a challenge. The online bidding was helpful in that regard and it gave a number of people that were perhaps unable to travel here to Ocala for the sale an opportunity to participate and buy horses.”

Wojciechowski says the “continued growth of the online bidding option” was an “exciting part” of the three-day sale.

By Thursday evening, with winning bids averaging $4,000 less than last year and the number of horses in the sale down by 16 percent compared to 2019, many buyers and sellers were relieved to move past this sale, hoping for a rebound in the fall.

A total of 517 2-year-olds sold for $15,830,800, down from 615 horses grossing $21,349,300 in last year’s sale.

“I think horsemen were at least relieved to be able to get the sales done and get some horses moved and be able to move on to the next go round,” Wojciechowski observed.

In Tuesday’s opening session, bay filly Shack’s Lil Mishap, consigned by local agent Jesse Hoppel of Coastal Equine, topped the bids, selling for $375,000 to bloodstock agent Donato Lanni.

On Wednesday, a filly consigned by Ocala powerhouse de Meric Sales took the day’s top price of $270,000, purchased by Mike Mulligan’s Emerald Sales.

On the final day of bidding, Citra-based McKathan Brothers were thrilled that the “very, very nice” dark bay colt they picked up for $165,000 at last year’s October Yearlings Sale in Kentucky sold to Jacob West for a sale-topping $700,000.

“It was a great sale in this market,” said McKathan Brothers manager and trainer Chris Alexander. “It’s quite a thrill, obviously, to top a sale at OBS this time of the year. We had 11 horses over there and we sold every horse. Obviously selling him was our high mark. Hopefully we see him in the Derby next year. It kind of gives us enough hope for the next year to go on; with corona(virus) and everything, it’s been tough on all of us down here. We can live to fight another day.”