05/18/2006 11:00PM

Breeder saw a good one in $2.5 million colt

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Long before the events of Tuesday's Barretts May sale of 2-year-olds in training in Pomona, Calif., breeder David Newcomb knew he had raised a promising Red Bullet colt.

Newcomb bred the colt on his ranch in Taylorsville, north of Sacramento, and sold him for $190,000 at the 2005 Keeneland September yearling sale. What he could not foresee was that the colt would be resold for a May sale record $2.5 million Tuesday.

"I was a little surprised," he said.

And quite proud. While Newcomb will not receive any of that enormous sum, he retains the colt's mare, Sookloozy, as part of his small broodmare band. His broodmares are bred annually to mid-level stallions in Kentucky and to leading stallions in California.

Newcomb's Thoroughbred operation was launched in 1993 after he sold most of his Quarter Horse herd. Newcomb said he wanted to start "on the low end" of Thoroughbred breeding. It is safe to say he has moved above that.

Newcomb is a hands-on breeder. He transported the Red Bullet colt to Kentucky last summer, a journey that covered 2,400 miles and took 2 1/2 days.

"Everytime I'd stop he'd nicker for a little more grain," Newcomb said. "I left here with him a little heavy, because I figure he'd lose some weight, but he actually gained weight. He was so relaxed. But that's his temperament and the temperament of the mare."

Newcomb paid $18,000 for Sookloozy at the 2003 Barretts October mixed sale, an event held at the same time Southern California was plagued by forest and grass fires. "That was my good fortune," Newcomb said. "No one could get in and out of the sale, because the fires broke out. I thought she'd go beyond my budget and was quite surprised she didn't."

Even though he no longer owned the Red Bullet colt, Newcomb was at Tuesday's sale, knowing the colt would be well-received. The colt had worked a furlong in 9.60 seconds on May 10, a record time for that distance at a May sale preview.

"I expected the horse to bring a million or a little over," he said. "He went higher than most people expected. There were a lot of people that wanted to buy him. People said he was one of the most outstanding individuals they had seen.

"I feel very good when horses I raised and sold are good winners or a sale topper," he said.

Sookloozy has not produced a foal since the Red Bullet colt. She was bred to Cee's Tizzy in 2004 and Ecton Park in 2005. This year, she was bred to Unusual Heat. Newcomb said he is optimistic that Sookloozy will be checked in foal.

"I think we probably have her pregnant," he said. "She's in excellent health."

Many of Newcomb's other mares were left open this year and will be sent to stallions in Kentucky next year. They could make for a successful foal crop of 2008.

Newcomb, 77, is more than just a horse breeder. Asked to describe himself, he says, "I've been a cowboy, paratrooper, logger, and rancher."

The cowboy, logger, and rancher interests are easy to understand considering he lives in an area of forests of mountains. He was a paratrooper in Japan for the Army at the end of World War II. "I celebrated my 18th birthday jumping into Japan," he said.

In the 1950's, Newcomb launched the Walking G Ranch, where he resides today. Aside from the horse operation, the Walking G Ranch is a summer camp for approximately 300 teenagers.

"We started 50 years ago," he said. "It doesn't seem that long ago."

Part of the campers' routine is working around the horses, Newcomb said.

"We teach the foals how to lead and be handled," he said. "It's a learning experience for the campers and the horses.

"I've got it made. We've got the kids and the horses and we're in beautiful country up here. If you make your living with what you love, that's it."