10/27/2006 12:00AM

Broodmares lead bargains at sale

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Chances are high that the Barretts October mixed sale on Monday and Tuesday in Pomona, Calif., will not be an expensive affair.

Last year, for example, the sale-topper was a broodmare that sold for $82,000. In 2004, the sale-topper was Cheiron, the 2004 Snow Chief Stakes winner who sold for $165,000 as part of a dispersal. The top seller other than the dispersal horses was a broodmare that sold for $60,000.

While those prices are minimal compared to those of the national bloodstock market, bargains are possible among the 551 broodmares, horses of racing age, weanlings, yearlings, and even a few stallions in this week's sale.

At the 2003 mixed sale, northern California breeder David Newcomb paid $18,000 for the broodmare Sookloozy, who was in foal to Red Bullet at the time. Newcomb sold the resulting yearling for $190,000 at the 2005 Keeneland September yearling sale. Earlier this year, the Red Bullet colt sold for $2.5 million at the Barretts May sale of 2-year-olds in training.

This week's Barretts October mixed sale will draw buyers primarily from Western states. The event comes three weeks after Barretts held its annual yearling sale, which had mixed results. While the annual yearling sale average increased $50 over 2005, to $26,362, the number of horses bought back rose from 26.8 percent in 2005 to 33 percent this year.

Those developments have led sale organizers - Barretts and the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association - to plan a smaller yearling sale for 2007.

The mixed sale is dominated by broodmares, many of which are California-breds, and yearlings. Some of the yearlings in this week's sale were not selected for the yearling sale earlier this month, while others simply do not have pedigrees suitable for the earlier sale.

Still, there are broodmares available that have been bred to such leading stallions as Benchmark, Bertrando, In Excess, and Swiss Yodeler - and yearlings by Benchmark and Bertrando.

At last year's mixed sale, the sale-topper was Ali's Dancer, a 12-year-old broodmare, who was sold for $82,000 to Rancho San Miguel. At that sale, there were 12 horses that sold for $30,000 or more - 9 broodmares and 3 weanlings.

In the 2005 sale, 440 horses sold for $2,529,400, a gain in gross price of 11 percent over the 419 horses sold in 2004. The 2005 sale averaged $5,749, a gain of 6 percent, and the median reached $30,000, a gain of 20 percent.

The sale was hampered by 163 buybacks, including numerous horses that failed to reach the Barretts minimum of $1,000.

The leading buyer was an unidentified Malaysian owner, who bought 21 horses for $131,200, an average of $6,247. Barretts officials said at the time that the horses were sent to Malaysia.

Unfurl the Flag likely out till next year

Unfurl the Flag, the winner of the Grade 1 Triple Bend Handicap in 2005 and the runner-up in the War Chant Stakes earlier this month, was expected to be scratched from Saturday's $175,000 California Cup Mile because of a minor injury, trainer David Bernstein said.

Earlier this week, Unfurl the Flag was found to have "filling in a leg," Bernstein said. While the filling subsided, Bernstein said he did not want "to take any chances."

Bernstein said that Unfurl the Flag will be turned out for 30 days, but is expected to return to racing next year.

Unfurl the Flag has won 7 of 26 starts and $647,935. Earlier this year, he was third in the Grade 1 Triple Bend and Wickerr handicaps.