07/31/2003 11:00PM

Breed-backs bolster market

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DEL MAR, Calif. - The presence of yearlings by stallions from outside of California will have a major influence on the results of the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association's Del Mar yearling sale on Aug. 10-11.

The sale features yearlings by 32 out-of-state stallions, including three champions - Boston Harbor, Fly So Free, and Giant's Causeway - and four winners of Triple Crown races - Commendable, Fusaichi Pegasus, Lemon Drop Kid, and Louis Quatorze.

Some yearlings by those stallions are California-breds, while others were bred in Kentucky. The Giant's Causeway filly was bred in Ireland.

The California-breds by out-of-state stallions are a result of a popular breed-back rule that allows foals by out-of-state stallions to be registered as statebreds. To be eligible for state-bred status, mares bred to out-of-state stallions must deliver that foal in California and then be bred back to a California stallion.

The trend is highly noticeable at next week's sale, with California-bred yearlings by out-of-state stallions such as Afternoon Deelites, Alphabet Soup, Cape Canaveral, Carson City, Commendable, Fusaichi Pegasus, Indian Charlie, Lemon Drop Kid, and Menifee.

"It really shows the importance of having a top stallion population so that breeders can breed mares back to [California] stallions," said Doug Burge, the executive director of the CTBA. "Before, we had a difficult time keeping top stallions in our state. When they became a hit, they were gone. It made it difficult."

Over the last two years, the Del Mar sale has set records for average prices, including $43,770 last year. Organizers are expecting yet another banner session this year.

The 159-horse catalog is considered to be one of the strongest. The sale's growth has been partially fueled by strong purses for statebreds, and an incentive program that rewards breeders and stallion owners.

The breed-back rule was in evidence at last year's sale.

The sale topper was a California-bred filly by Unbridled's Song, who stands at Taylor Made Farm in Nicholasville, Ky. The filly was purchased for $250,000 by NW Management for Stan Fulton, the leading buyer at that sale. The Unbridled's Song filly was a California-bred because her dam, Running Redhead, was bred back to a California stallion.

This year, there will be considerable interest in the fillies by Fusaichi Pegasus, the 2000 Kentucky Derby winner, and Giant's Causeway, the 2000 European Horse of the Year. Both are consigned by Golden Eagle Farm and represent the first crops by the stallions.

The Fusaichi Pegasus filly is a California-bred named Flight of Pegasus. She is out of Fly First Class, a General Meeting filly.

The Giant's Causeway filly was bred in Ireland, where the stallion was based at the start of his stud career. The filly, named Legendary Destiny, is out of the Mr. Prospector mare Courtly Queen, who did not race.

Courtly Queen is out of Queen of the River, a Riverman mare who was a stakes winner at the Solana County Fair. Queen of the River is a full-sister to River Special, a four-time stakes winner of $718,000.

But there is a question of how they will be received by buyers at a California sale who are not accustomed to bidding on yearlings by such expensive stallions. Last year, six yearlings sold for $100,000 or more.

Both Fusaichi Pegasus and Giant's Causeway stood for fees of $125,000 in Kentucky this year.

Despite the influence of out-of-state stallions, there are also many familiar names on the stallion list.

Of the top 15 California-bred stallions by progeny earnings this year, 11 are represented - In Excess, Beau Genius, Valid Wager, Smokester, Lord Carson, Memo, Bertrando, General Meeting, Cee's Tizzy, High Brite, and Bold Badgett.

Bertrando leads all stallions in the sale with 11 entrants, slightly more than Swiss Yodeler (10), In Excess (9), and Event of the Year (8).