The show will go on at Ocala Breeders’ Sales after a tornado ripped through the area March 12, three days before their March Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training is set to kick off the juvenile sales season. The OBS grounds in Ocala, Fla. were undamaged by the severe weather, and several key Thoroughbred operations in the area also escaped the impact of the storm.
“We’re OK here; it was extremely close to us, but we are OK,” said Tod Wojciechowski, director of sales for OBS. “The path was maybe a mile south of us, and it cut through over to Highway 200 and hit over near the Fairfield Inn. On the ground here there’s no problems at all; we’ve got people looking at horses this morning. We were very fortunate because the path of that event was extremely close to us.”
David O’Farrell of Ocala Stud said the tornado passed about a block away from the storied operation’s main farm.
“There’s just devastation,” he said. “Buildings impacted, lots of trees down, lots of chaos across the street, but we were very, very fortunate. We were right on the edge of the tornado. We had a couple oak trees came down and some sections of fence down but no horses loose, no one injured. The buildings are OK. We’re extremely fortunate.”
Eddie Woods, Ciaran Dunne, Niall Brennan, and Francis Vanlangandonck reported no concerns with their facilities, all of which were well out of the line of the storm.
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OBS had already moved Saturday’s scheduled under tack show to March 13. The third set of the March 10 session was postponed to March 11 because of rain. The Friday under tack show was completed in its entirety.
“There were some large storms just north of us that fortunately stayed north of us all day yesterday and gave us the opportunity to get the breeze show completed,” Wojciechowski said. “We molded the third set from March 10 into yesterday’s breeze show. This severe weather patch we had today had been predicted for a few days and that’s why we made the decision to move the last breeze show to Sunday. So we’ve made the right calls as far as dodging the weather.”
With temperatures in the area expected to drop Saturday evening, leading to a low of around 30 degrees Sunday morning, the final under tack show will be postponed from its original 8 am ET start time to 10 am
“Along with daylight savings time changing tonight, it didn’t make sense to start at 8 am,” Wojciechowski said. “At about the time we would be starting, it would be impossible to do videos or see horses coming down the stretch. Moving it back to 10:00 am will be careful for everyone.”
Wojciechowski advised shoppers to bring warm gear for Sunday’s activities.
“Tomorrow morning might be a little cool compared to what you’re normally used to,” he said.
Ocala Police and the Marion County Sheriff’s Department are advising drivers in the area to use extreme caution, be aware of downed power lines, and treat intersections with non-functional traffic lights as four-way stop signs.