05/16/2008 12:00AM

Barretts falls short of 2007

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Compared with 2007, Tuesday's Barretts May sale of 2-year-olds in training failed to keep pace. The sale had a 15 percent decline in average price, a 4 percent drop in median, and a 31 percent reduction in gross receipts.

The figures seem discouraging but sale officials insist they were not surprised by the results.

"A lot more horses stayed east this year," Barretts president Gerald McMahon said. "I think it was a factor of expenses and risk-reward. We didn't have as deep of a top end."

In fairness, the 2007 sale was a hard act to follow, with a record gross of $11,331,300 and a record average of $62,604. This year, the gross was $7,816,400, with 34 fewer horses sold, and the average was $53,173. Tuesday's average was 1 percent higher than the 2006 average of $52,573.

This year, there were six horses that sold for $250,000 or more. Last year, there were 13 horses that sold for $250,000 or more, compared with just four in 2006.

"It was incredible last year," McMahon said. "We were hoping we could build on that. We saw early on that we didn't have the horses coming out. There were a lot of buyers here for the same horses and weakness for the middle and lower horses. Buyers are pretty selective."

Jess Jackson led all buyers at Tuesday's sale, acquiring four horses for $1.6 million. Jackson bought the Harlan's Holiday filly that topped the sale at $700,000. The owner of reigning Horse of the Year Curlin, Jackson has a history of buying expensive horses at this sale. He also acquired the 2003 sale-topper for $375,000, at a time when he was building his racing holdings.

Jackson said the Harlan's Holiday filly will be sent to trainer Steve Asmussen at Churchill Downs. The Kentucky-bred filly, consigned by Murray Smith, agent, zipped a quarter-mile in 20.80 seconds in a training preview on May 8, the fastest two-furlong workout of the sale prospects. The filly is out of the unraced Septieme Ciel mare Leading the Way, 12. The second dam, Fit to Lead, won seven races, including five stakes, and earned $595,776.

The Harlan's Holiday filly was purchased for $150,000 by M.S.T.S. at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky yearling sale last July.

"She's ready to run now, but that's not the point," Jackson said. "I want to baby her and put her into Steve Asmussen's care. We want a two-turn horse that runs in her fourth year.

"She's a two-turn prospect and has a natural gait. She does things easily. You can't ask for anything more."

Smith said the filly was injured in a paddock accident in Florida earlier this year. "Her leg got caught in a fence early this year," she said. "I lost some time."

Smith was the second leading consignor, selling four horses for $965,000. Jerry Bailey Sales Agency, acting as agent, led all consignors, selling seven horses for $1,009,000. Bailey's leading sale was a Mr. Greeley colt purchased for $300,000 by Jackson.

Jackson paid $300,000 for two other prospects - a Fusaichi Pegasus colt and a Lion Heart filly.

The leading California-bred in the one-day sale was an In Excess filly purchased for $115,000 by Dolantori Racing from the consignment of Sam Hendricks, agent. Cat Dreamer, who held the 4 1/2-furlong track record of 50.84 seconds at Hollywood Park earlier this month, sold for $110,000 to Gary Broad. A California-bred, Cat Dreamer started in a $40,000 claiming race for maidens when he set the track record on May 8.