Price of $1.55 million expected to break 30-year lull in Arabian horse industry
By Jessica Schley
The most expensive Arabian yearling filly ever sold at auction was bred, foaled and raised on a farm in the Santa Ynez Valley. At eight months old, unshown and unproven, the petite rose-gray bombshell sold for $1.550 million on Feb. 24 in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Om El Erodite, born in June at Om El Arab in Rancho Estates, is one of the most expensive female Arabians – of any age – ever sold at auction.
“We are thrilled about the record-breaking sale, yet naturally it was really hard to see her go. We knew without a doubt she was incredible the moment she was born,” said Janina Merz, daughter of Sigi Siller, the famed breeder and founder of Om El Arab. Siller died of cancer in May, just six weeks before the filly was born.
Merz knows the farm’s matriarch would have been extremely proud of the filly, and she wishes that their lives would have overlapped, if only just briefly.
“Erodite is the culmination of our program’s entire focus and vision from day one. She is fourth-generation Om El Arab,” Merz said, not to mention the product of three generations of work within her own family, beginning with her grandfather, who purchased Siller’s first breeding mare for her in 1969.
“This filly is everything that we have ever strived to produce, in one package. She is a vision. She looks like a painting,” Merz gushed, with pride in her voice and emotion in her eyes.
“What makes me the most thrilled is the fact that her sale was a boost for the entire Arabian industry. This is a pivotal moment for us. There hasn’t been an auction sale like this since at least the 1980s.”
The new Marquise Invitational Arabian Horse Auction, where Om El Erodite was sold, also has ties to the Santa Ynez Valley.
Local residents Greg and Nancy Gallun of Gallun Farms assisted Jeff Sloan of Sahara Farm near Scottsdale, along with two other partners, in creating the auction.
The annual sale is expected to become an international standard for the industry, with this filly’s sale marking just the beginning of what is speculated as a new era for Arabian horses.