09/08/2010 1:43PM

Average, median rise at Washington yearling sale

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AUBURN, Wash. – Breeders in the nation’s Northwest corner bucked industry trends Tuesday at the Washington Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association’s annual summer yearling sale. The average sale price increased 26 percent from 2009, and the median was up 22 percent.

Weighing against those gains was a decrease in gross revenue as 79 yearlings changed hands, down from 102 the previous year. And while the market was exceptionally strong at the top, with five horses selling for more than $35,000, WTBOA president Dana Halvorson said many consignors left with little to show for their investments of time and money.

“It was kind of a mixed bag,” he said. “There were a lot of bigger numbers, but there’s no middle market right now. It was $25,000 up to whatever, and cheap, with nothing in the middle.”

Of the 119 select yearlings cataloged, four were withdrawn and another 36 failed to meet their auction reserves. The percentage of RNAs – reserves not attained – was 31.3, the lowest in three years, though Halvorson said that number paints an incomplete picture.

“Breeders need cash flow, and we had way more people this year who didn’t put reserves on horses,” he said. “That’s a risky way to do business, because you need at least two people to bid on the horse, and in a lot of cases there weren’t that many.”

Topping the sale was a filly from the first crop of champion grass runner English Channel from the Emerald Downs stakes-placed mare Time for Magic. Purchased for $80,000 by Todd and Shawn Hansen of Tenino, Wash., she was consigned by Terry and Mary Lou Griffin of Buckley, Wash.

A full brother to 2009 Washington champion 2-year-old Hollywood Harbor sold for $56,000. Consigned by his breeders, Pam and Neal Christopherson of Hermiston, Ore., the son of Harbor the Gold from the stakes-winning mare Miss Slewette was purchased by Frank Gaunt of Eatonville, Wash.

The average sale price was $10,461, up from $8,320 in 2009. The median was $5,500. Of the 79 horses sold, 26 changed hands for less than $3,000.

“We had a lot of participation from Canada, but not much from California,” Halvorson said. “Our locals were as active as they could be. The difficulty of it is a lot of people just didn’t have any buyers. It was better than last year, but the numbers are a little deceptive. When you add in the no-sales, there are a lot of people who are hurting, and those are the people I’m concerned about.”

Belvoir settling in at Remington

Trainer Vann Belvoir, second in the Emerald Downs standings with 48 wins, is starting to gain some traction at Remington Park in Oklahoma City, where he has 12 horses in training and will add as many as a dozen more after the Emerald meeting ends Sept. 26.

Belvoir has been commuting between Seattle and the Midwest for the past 10 weeks as he tries to establish a winter base. He has saddled horses at Prairie Meadows, Arlington Park, and Canterbury Park in addition to Remington, where he was 1 for 7 through last weekend.

“We’re starting to catch on,” Belvoir said Tuesday. “The last three we ran, we got a second with Elusive Schemes, a win with Roy’s Tops, and then a second on a head-bob with Personality Kid. We’ve claimed one, and I plan to claim some more. I’ll go back one more time before the Emerald meet ends and then head back there full time. We’re going to go with the whole family.”

No Flies On Doodle, Belvoir’s stable star this spring, has finished last in each of her three starts since leaving Emerald, where she won two early-season stakes races. After failing to make an impact in stakes in Iowa and Minnesota, she tried the grass at Remington in her last start, but after setting the pace in a one-mile allowance, she faded badly to finish nearly 20 lengths behind the winner.

“I’m going to drop her back in on the turf, go five-eighths, and hopefully we can tuck in behind the leaders and see if she can’t go by them,” Belvoir said. “If she doesn’t fire, we’ll probably send her to Kentucky and get her in foal.”

◗ Jockey Miguel Perez left Emerald Downs last week and returned to New Mexico, where he rode six horses Saturday at Albuquerque. Perez, runner-up in the 2000 Emerald standings, won with 16 of his 90 mounts this summer.

◗ Jockey Seth Martinez, a fan favorite during his two-plus seasons at Emerald, overcame a dismal start to finish seventh in the standings at Canterbury Park in Shakopee, Minn. Martinez, who left Emerald in early July to be closer to his two young children in Minnesota, rode two winners on closing day, Aug. 29, including stakes winner Sir Tricky for leading trainer Mac Robertson.

Martinez had been 1 for 42 at Canterbury before catching fire in August to finish with 24 wins from 166 mounts. He rode 20 winners last month, with two three-win days.