Mendelssohn, Bolt d’Oro Fillies Set the Pace at OBS Sunday

A filly by Mendelssohn (hip 141) had the fastest furlong breeze of Sunday’s first session of the under-tack show for the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company’s Spring Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training, while a daughter of Bolt d’Oro (hip 3) turned in the day’s fastest quarter-mile breeze.

Consigned by Off the Hook, LLC, hip 141 worked the furlong in :9 3/5 an hour and a half into Sunday’s session of the breeze show. The bay filly is out of the unraced Caroline Victoria (Aus) (Lonhro {Aus}), a daughter of graded winner Mighty Caroline (Stormy Atlantic) and from the family of Grade I winner American Theorem. She was bred in Florida by J Stables and Gelfenstein Farm.

Hip 3 skipped her quarter-mile in :20 3/5 just minutes into the session, which began at 8 a.m. with temperatures in the upper 60s. The dark bay filly is out of stakes winner and graded-placed Above Fashion (Paddy o’Prado). She is consigned by Brandon and Ali Rice’s RiceHorse Stable, which purchased her for $160,000 at last year’s Fasig-Tipton October Sale.

The New York-bred filly will sell just at the start of the four-day Spring sale Apr. 25, so Brandon Rice said he knew she needed to set herself apart from the crowd with her work Sunday.

“She has the tactical speed to go an eighth, but we decided, with her being so early in the sale, we couldn’t afford to blend in,” Rice said. “We wanted to make sure that we set ourselves apart. We knew that she had tenacity and a will to run and that’s the heart that you find in those good horses. We were delighted that she was able to put her best foot forward.”

Ali and Brandon Rice are both from legendary pinhooking families and RiceHorse Stable had almost immediate success when the couple teamed up. Humble and Hungry (Limehouse), a $7,000 Fasig-Tipton October yearling sold for $200,000 at the 2010 OBS Spring Sale and went on to be a graded-stakes winner on the track.

“Ali and I, we play pretty humble pinhooking and we make a living modestly in this business trying to flip horses in partnerships and on our own,” Rice said. “We buy horses for $5,000 and $10,000–kind of like my dad [Bryan Rice] did when he had a Breeders’ Cup champion [Storm the Court] a couple years back with a $5,000 horse who sold for $60,000. And our first pinhook together was a $7,000 horse who sold for $200,000.”

The Rices knew early on that they had something special with their speedy filly.

“Every once in a while, we get these moments of brilliance where we have an elite athlete and they usually show themselves in early spring when you breeze them and they have a big stride and just ridiculous stamina,” Rice said. “She was one of those that was just a step better than most other horses all season in her turn of foot and her love of the game, her willingness. And she has a huge stride that made everything look easy.”

Rice agreed the filly’s six-figure yearling price was an unusual stretch for the operation.

“We don’t usually drift up into the six figures,” he said. “We haven’t had an investor that has asked to play on, what I call, high-stakes poker pinhooker. The bread-and-butter pinhooking that my family has raised me on is between $5,000 and $50,000 and that is probably the comfort zone. And then we will stretch on up to $60,000, $70,000 or $80,000 at times. But we aren’t strangers to the six figures. We’ve done it and we’ve had clients send us horses that are six-figure horses that we tried to fetch a profit for. We’ve learned a lot from working from other people–we had I’m a Chatterbox (Munnings) back in the day and we had Talk Veuve to Me (Violence). We’ve had a few really good fillies that have helped to evolve my eye.”

By the last set of Sunday’s session, which ended shortly after 1 p.m., temperatures were up in the mid-80s and there was a noticeable headwind, according to Rice.

“Throughout the day, the headwind was picking up for the last couple of sets,” Rice said. “I had a couple of :10 2/5 and :10 3/5’s that suffered from it. And then the warmth–it definitely feels like spring in Florida–that weather does slow things down, as does the headwind. So it might have been a tick or two slower as the day went on. That’s normal. Anyone that shops at sales knows that.”

The under-tack show continues through Saturday, with each session beginning at 8 a.m. The Spring sale will be held Apr. 25-28 and bidding commences each day at 10:30 a.m.

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