10/05/2006 11:00PM

After poor showing, California yearling sale to adjust

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The California October yearling sale may have a smaller catalog in 2007 after officials expressed disappointment at the reception that some yearlings received at this year's sale, held on Tuesday at Barretts in Pomona, Calif.

The one-day sale, considered the premier yearling sale in California, had disappointing results. While the average increased $50 from the 2005 sale, to $26,362, the gross of $4,336,900 fell 19 percent, the number sold fell 17 percent from 207 to 171, and the median fell from $17,000 to $16,000.

The number of horses bought back reached 33 percent, or 108 of the 327 yearlings cataloged. Last year, 26.8 percent of those cataloged were not sold. Forty-eight horses were withdrawn from this year's sale.

The sale is a joint operation between Barretts Equine Limited and the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association. For 2007, the sale could offer approximately 300 yearlings, according to the president of Barretts, Gerald McMahon.

"We need to be more selective," McMahon said. "There were 25 yearlings that didn't need to be there. We'll adjust on that.

"I think the buyers were more selective than last year," McMahon said, addressing the high buy-back rate. "The buyers were here but they were more tight-fisted. We were happy with the buyer turnout, but they disagreed with what the consignors wanted."

This was the second year of the California October yearling sale, following the merger of the breeders association's Del Mar yearling sale and the Barretts October yearling sale.

Tuesday's sale was led by a Cape Town filly purchased for $240,000 by John Brocklebank, agent, from the consignment of Andy Havens, agent for Craig and Rebecca Shields. The filly is a full sister to Race for Glory, the winner of the 2003 Cavonnier Stakes at Santa Anita.

Brocklebank said the filly would be offered at a 2-year-olds in training sale in the spring.

Six horses were sold for $100,000 or more, one more than last year. The leading colt, by Yonaguska, sold for $150,000 to Peter Pappas from the consignment of Terry Lovingier's Lov Acres Ranch.

Lovingier sold five horses for $525,000. Three of those were sold to Linda Templeton of Lake Havasu City, Ariz., who sat alongside Lovingier when she purchased a More Than Ready filly for $130,000.

Pappas has been a partner with Lovingier on horses in the past, Lovingier said.

"They are friends of mine," he said of Pappas and Templeton. "They're paying for them."

While Lovingier left Barretts elated at the results, many consignors were frustrated.

Mary Knight consigned 54 horses, selling 19 for $289,500, an average of $15,237.

"I had nice horses that X-rayed well and scoped clean and didn't bring a fraction of what we thought," she said. "We had so much interest. I'm astonished. It's a very difficult marketplace."

Knight faulted the high cost of training in California and the recently concluded Keeneland sale as a drain on the yearling sale. It can easily cost more than $30,000 to keep a horse in training in Southern California, a sum higher than the value of many of the horses offered at Tuesday's sale.

"A good California-bred is worth its weight in gold," she said. "But a midpriced horse doesn't seem to sell well."

Julie Adair sold the sale-topping filly at the 2000 Del Mar yearling sale, but her nine-horse consignment on Tuesday did not fare as well. Only two were sold.

"I would have hoped for six of the nine [to sell], but I'm not going to give them away," Adair said. "I thought I came with nine nice horses. One got a high mark when he was evaluated, and no one was bidding on him."

Adair said some of her yearlings could be directed to the 2-year-old sale in May or sold privately.