04/01/2011 3:09PM

Barretts sale reached via Oregon trail


ARCADIA, Calif. – The yearlings bred by David and Marion Christensen are well traveled by the time they reach Barretts sales in Pomona, Calif., to be sold as yearlings.

The Christiansens breed six mares at various farms in California, and then transport the mares and sucklings back to their farm in Deer Island, Ore., to be raised. Later, the yearlings are sent back to California for the yearling sales.

One of their yearlings from the 2008 crop could be in for even greater travels in coming weeks. Offlee Wild Boys, a gelding by Offlee Wild, will be an outsider in Saturday’s $1 million Santa Anita Derby, the lone California-bred among 10 probable starters for the key prep to the Kentucky Derby on the West Coast. A big performance could lead to appearances in other stakes.

“He’s got a real tough job ahead of him,” Marion Christensen said on Friday.

The gelding has a Kentucky Derby runner in his pedigree.

Offlee Wild Boy is out of the Grand Slam mare Match Ball, who was winless in four starts, but is a half-sister to Deputy Glitters, the winner of the 2006 Ohio Derby and Tampa Bay Derby. Deputy Glitters was eighth in the 2006 Kentucky Derby.

Offlee Wild Boys has been through the sale ring twice, selling as a yearling for $35,000 in October 2009 and for $65,000 at the Barretts March Sale of 2-year-olds in training in 2010. He has won 4 of 12 starts and $109,004 for owners Gary Barber, Roger Birnbaum, and Kevin Tsujihara.

Trained at Golden Gate Fields by Steve Miyadi, Offlee Wild Boys will make his graded stakes debut in the Santa Anita Derby, but won his last two starts in an allowance race over 1 1/16 miles and a mile at Golden Gate Fields earlier this year.

Match Ball is currently in California, with a Dixie Chatter filly by her side. She was recently bred to leading California stallion Unusual Heat and has been pronounced in foal, Marion Christensen said. Match Ball is expected back in Oregon by late April. Her yearling Salt Lake filly resides at the farm.

The Christiansens have 3,500 acres for their horse and cattle operation, and primarily breed to sell.

“We try not to race them,” Marion said. “We’re not really equipped for that here. David and I take care of the horses. We have 15 heads, yearlings, broodmares and babies. They kind of keep growing. We’re the ones that do it. We love it.”

The Thoroughbreds have plenty of other company on the ranch. “The island is absolutely beautiful,” Marion said. “The horses share the field with deer, elk, eagles and ospreys. We’ve got all sorts of animals. From my house I can see two nesting eagles.”

The Christiansens have bred Thoroughbreds since the mid-1990s, shortly after the death of Marion Christensen’s mother, Diane Kim, who started as a Quarter Horse breeders and later added Thoroughbreds.

Marion said her parents were “instrumental in bringing Quarter Horses to the Northwest,” she said. “My mother passed in 1995. We decided to buy a mare or two out of that group. Then it grew to two mares and even more. We’re doing okay on a beer budget. We have had a couple of nice horses running.”

The Christiansens bred Time to Honor, a winner of 18 of 45 starts and $297,487. He won the 2005 California Cup Starter Handicap. Time to Honor “comes from a line of mares of mom’s horses,” Marion said. “It’s been a lot of fun.”

Saturday, the Christiansens will watch the Santa Anita Derby at home. Getting away is not so easy.

“We don’t get off the ranch too often,” she said with a laugh. “We need to feed the horses, a trivial matter.”