01/18/2002 1:00AM

Barretts sale more routine this year

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No two January mixed sales at Barretts are quite the same.

Unlike the two annual 2-year-olds in-training sales - which offers expensive stock in March and has a more claiming-oriented catalog in May - the quality and quantity of the January sale can vary from year to year.

Last year, the sale was boosted by two dispersals and grossed $6.02 million from the sale of 429 horses. In 2000, without a strong dispersal, the gross was $2.06 million on the sale of 367 horses.

This week's January mixed sale, which will be held on Tuesday and Wednesday at the Hinds Pavilion in Pomona, closely resembles the 2000 sale. There are 541 yearlings, 2-year-olds, horses of racing age, stallions, and broodmares in the catalog and an additional 52 head who will be sold at 10 a.m. on Wednesday as part of the dispersal of Bella Thoroughbreds.

The main sessions will start at 11 a.m. each day. Horses of racing age and 2-year-olds will sell in the first part of Tuesday's session, followed in the afternoon by broodmares, yearlings, and stallions. Aside from the Bella Thoroughbreds dispersal, all of Wednesday's session is broodmares, stallions, and yearlings.

The two principals of Bella Thoroughbreds - Michele Serrao and Bryan Rosenquist - have been charged with embezzling $12.7 million from Bank of America. They are accused of fraud and conspiracy for vault theft. A trial is set for March.

The Bella Thoroughbreds consignment includes the stallion Comet Shine, the 1993 champion 2-year-old male in Canada, as well as broodmares, yearlings and 2-year-olds. The consignment is being handled by Miners Trail Receivership.

Comet Shine sells as Hip No. 632. The sire of three stakes winners, Comet Shine previously stood at stud in New York. As a result, the sale of the 11-year-old stallion and the rest of the Bella Thoroughbreds consignment has generated interest nationwide, according to Gerald McMahon, the president and general manager of Barretts.

"The caliber of the horses is comparable with the rest of the horses in the mixed sale," said McMahon. "This sale is more the breeding stock. We have some ex-claimers. Most are heavily related to the stallion they have, Comet Shine."

Last year, the sale-topper at the January mixed sale was Our Majestic Cat, who sold for $185,000. By Tabasco Cat, Our Majestic Cat was part of the dispersal of Frank Cossey's TLC Investments. On Jan. 6, Our Majestic Cat won a maiden race over 1 1/16 miles at Fair Grounds.

McMahon is not predicting the same level of revenue for this week's sale.

"We'll be lucky to be a third of last year's gross. We'll take a major hit in gross and average. This is a more routine California mixed sale.

"There are some decent mares and quite a few young ones. A lot of racing prospects will compete locally. They won't break anybody's bank."

The sale includes a large section of broodmares bred to California stallions such as Bertrando, Dance Floor, Event of the Year, In Excess, Mantles Star, Memo, Olympio, Swiss Yodeler, and Town Caper.

The stallions Bienvenido, winner of the 1998 San Luis Obispo Handicap at Santa Anita, and Walter Willy, who previously stood at Vessels Stallion Farm, will be offered on Wednesday.

One runner is fresh off the track. The maiden Musical Chairs finished second for the 12th time in his 19-race career on Wednesday and is offered as Hip No. 27, part of the Golden Eagle Farm consignment.

"The riders swear he tries," said trainer Jack Carava. "They come back and say, 'He's not cheating.' But it's kind of hard to run second 12 times in 19 starts and not be cheating a little bit. The way I figure it, one day he'll get lucky and get there. But he's a neat little horse."