10/14/2011 2:24PM

Barretts officials heartened by yearling sale results

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The recent Barretts October yearling sale had its highest average in four years, leaving sale officials optimistic that growth is looming in the California yearling market.

The two-day sale, held on Tuesday evening and during the day on Wednesday, saw 154 horses sell for $2,599,700, an average of $16,811. The average was 19.4 percent higher than the 2010 average of $14,128, which was boosted by a reduction of yearling owned by Marty and Pam Wygod.

This year was the second consecutive year the average increased; the 2009 sale averaged $12,413.

“We were looking for double-digit increases and we got that,” said Kim Lloyd, Barretts vice-president of sales. “We feel like we have some momentum going.”

This year’s average price was the highest since 2007, which averaged $19,938.

Two horses sold for $100,000, topping Tuesday evening’s session. Wednesday’s session was led by filly who sold for $70,000. She was purchased by trainer Mike Machowsky, whom Lloyd cited as the sort of buyer who thrives in a regional yearling market. Many of the horses bought at the sale eventually race in Southern California.

“Machowsky is a good example,” Lloyd said. “He bought six California-breds. He said, ‘Why look at anything else?’”

Based at Santa Anita, Machowsky’s stable is led by the California-bred Caracortado, a candidate for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Churchill Downs on Nov. 5.

The $100,000 yearlings were an Unusual Heat colt bought by trainer Eric Kruljac, acting on behalf of Class Racing Stable, and an Afleet Alex colt bought by trainer Mike Pender on behalf of B.J. Wright. On Oct. 8, Wright and Pender won the Grade 2 Oak Tree Mile with Jeranimo, a candidate for the BC Mile on Nov. 5.

Tuesday’s session was the strongest of the week, showing an increase in average price of 47 percent over 2010. Wednesday’s session had an average price that was down 7 percent. One point of concern was the buyback rate, which reached 30 percent. There were 221 horses that went through the ring, with 67 listed as not sold.

Lloyd said the buyback rate was “higher than we expected” but said that 12 of those horses were late sold in private deals.

Before the sale, Lloyd was optimistic that average prices would be higher than 2010, basing his theory on higher purses for California-breds throughout the Southern California circuit, a lucrative stakes program for statebreds that has been redeveloped for 2012, and an existing incentive plan that pays a $20,000 bonus to statebreds who win maiden special weight races in Southern California.

Cal Cup winner His Legacy dies

His Legacy, who won three runnings of the California Cup Starter Handicap in the early 1990s, died of natural causes at Legacy Ranch in Clements, Calif., on Thursday, farm owner Pete Parrella said. He was 26.

His Legacy raced from the ages of 2 to 9 and won 14 of 47 starts. He earned $420,925 in a career best known for wins in the Cal Cup Starter Handicap in 1991, 1992 and 1994 and a second in the 1993 running.

“In his first race at Bay Meadows in 1987, he won by 10 lengths,” Parrella said. “It really got me enthused on the Thoroughbred side. He was real special for me. He was named after the ranch.”

In his retirement years, His Legacy shared a paddock with the retired Quarter Horse multiple stakes winner Griswold, a champion who also raced for Legacy Ranch. Griswold died earlier this year.

“They were buddies,” Parrella said. “They really enjoyed each other.”