OCALA, Fla. – Ocala is living up to its name as the horse capital of the world.
A spring auction wrapped up with more than 800 horses up for grabs. The auction brought in record sales at nearly $74 million.
In 2020, Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company had to postpone its spring auction in April due to the coronavirus pandemic. The sale was moved to June. This year brought record crowds and sales after a lower sales performance last year.
“There was quite a pinned-up demand leftover from last year. People were excited to get out and race again,” director of sales Tod Wojciechowski said.
OBS’ spring auction brought in about $74 million, its highest gross profit ever. In 2020, the April auction brought in about $70.1 million and in 2019 about $73.5 million.
On the second day of the April auction, one horse sold for $1.5 million. The 2-year-old bay colt breezed an eight in 10 seconds flat during the under tack session.
“I was happy for the consigners selling their horses. They had to weather a pretty big storm last year. They had to tighten their belts and their spending, but they got rewarded and they deserved it,” Wojciechowski said.
The pandemic did bring some changes to the way OBS holds its auctions. Because of the capacity limits in 2020 due to COVID-19, they couldn’t have their usual thousands of bidders in-house.
“We had to utilize online bidding, which is something we’ve never used before and had to pull together rather quickly,” Wojciechowski said.
Wojciechowski said the online bidding option brought in more people, and will continue to be an option for future auctions. He also said the opening of the World Equestrian Center down the road has also brought a boost to the local economy. Several shows and events have already been held in its expo centers and arenas.
“It’s going to be a continued growth here in Ocala. If it was a secret Ocala is the horse capital of the world, it’s no longer a secret,” Wojciechowski said.