Record-Fast Horses Add Intrigue to 2024 OBS Spring Sale

Not every year can deliver a record sale—a lot of factors have to come together for that—but with some head-turning breezes on the track last week and a roster of colts and fillies by a long list of successful stallions to choose from this year, organizers are optimistic the 2024 edition of the Ocala Breeders' Spring 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale can keep some of that momentum going. The four-session Spring Sale sale begins at noon Tuesday, April 16, and follows with sessions that start at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. The later start time Tuesday was put in place to allow buyers more time for inspection following the alteration of last week's under-tack schedule when weather saw OBS push the fifth breeze session from April 11 to April 12 and the shifting of the sessions that followed. Last year's four-session Spring Sale saw 699 of 840 juveniles offered sell for $90,405,000 gross, good for an average of $129,335 and a median of $65,000. That gross nearly matched the 2022 record, while the average surpassed the sale's high mark established in 2022 and the median matched the 2022 standard-setter. "We're looking forward to a good sale," OBS president Tom Ventura said. "We set the bar pretty high last year with the numbers that came. Hopefully it'll be a similar market, but you can't expect double-digit increases every year. After the pandemic we had a lot of success where things kept going up and up. I think things have quieted down a little bit but I think the quality horses are here." Ventura, who noticed a vibrant barn area Monday, points to positive purse trends in Kentucky, New York, Florida, and other states helping to fuel interest. "I don't know if a buyer of a million-dollar horse is trying to maximize the horse's maiden win—they're looking to win the big Saturday races—but for the horses bringing mid-level prices, purse improvements for those owners are very important," Ventura said. "It's a quicker chance to get out (even on the investment)." Part of that buzz around the barns flowed from under-tack sessions that saw plenty of excitement. On April 9 a daughter from the first crop of classic winner Tiz the Law breezed a quarter-mile in a track-record :20 1/5. Consigned by Tom McCrocklin, agent, the filly bred in Kentucky by CHC Inc. is scheduled to be offered Wednesday, April 16, as Hip 365. Out of stakes-placed winner Moonlight Girl, the bay filly is a half sister to grade 3-placed winner Urban (by Quality Road). McCrocklin went to $170,000 to land the Tiz the Law filly at the 2023 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, where she was consigned by Highgate Sales. Then April 14 a McKinzie filly matched that record effort when she completed a quarter-mile in :20 1/5. Consigned by Eddie Woods, agent, and bred in Kentucky by Brent and Beth Harris, the filly out of the winning D'wildcat mare D'fashion to be offered as Hip 1143 (April 14 session) is a half sister to graded stakes-placed multiple stakes winner Strategic Dreams. D'fashion has produced five winners from as many starters. As for some of last year's standouts who delivered those big numbers, a Gun Runner—Perfect Wife, by Majesticperfection colt who sold for $2.2 million from the consignment of de Meric Sales to Donato Lanni, agent, would lead the way. The colt has since been named Collmus. While Collmus is unraced to date, the sale already has seen its share of accomplished graduates, a list that includes two-time grade 3 winner Nysos, who turned heads and secured a third win in as many starts with a 7 1/2-length score in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G3) Feb. 3 at Santa Anita Park. He was purchased for $550,000 by Lanni for current owner Baoma Corp. from the Best A Luck Farm consignment. As for this year, McCrocklin said Monday that he was encouraged by the number of people visiting his barn but he's concerned about the enthusiasm possibly not running deep. "The traffic at my barn has been off the charts," McCrocklin said. "It's 2:40 p.m. and I haven't had lunch yet, but I'm on an island at my own consignment, and what I'm hearing is that it's a little spotty out there. My opinion is it's returning to where it started—the sport of kings. They will pay a premium for the best, and the market will be strong at the top, but everybody else is fighting for their life." While that top-heavy trend has been seen at plenty of sales in recent years, Ventura is hopeful that the variety in this sale will help buyers go a bit deeper. He counted some 160 sires represented in the catalog. "That's the kind of variety that you want in a sale like this. That's the attraction," Ventura said. "It was kind of mind-boggling to see how broad a group of horses are here. We have 1,200 horses and it'll be whittled down some based on scratches, but we'll have enough horses that someone can come here with confidence that they'll be able to find a good horse in their price range." This year's sale saw 1,208 2-year-olds cataloged. Through 1 p.m. ET Monday, there were 271 outs. The sessions, by hip number, are scheduled: Tuesday, 1-302; Wednesday, 303-604; Thursday, 605-906; and Friday, 907-1208.