09/18/2008 11:00PM

Butterworths enjoy switch from stallions to broodmares

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POMONA, Calif. - A few years ago, the chaos of running a stallion farm finally got to breeders Matt and Barbara Butterworth. There had to be a more enjoyable end to Thoroughbred breeding, they thought.

"Standing a stallion is a lot of work," Barbara Butterworth said earlier this week. "It's hard to get good help at the farm. The stallion is only as good as the management at the farm. It's stressful. It's a go, go, go time during the breeding season. We decided we needed to change our direction."

The couple shifted to acquiring broodmares on behalf of clients and then selling the resulting foals at yearling sales. At the California fall selected yearling sale at Barretts on Sept. 30, their West 12 Ranch will offer 13 yearlings as agent for clients.

The consignment includes nine fillies and four colts, including a full brother to 2008 Turf Paradise Derby winner Nikki'sgoldensteed; a Marino Marini filly that is the first foal out of Thermal Ablasion, who earned $454,247; and a Benchmark filly who is a half-sister to Frumious, a 2-year-old filly. Frumious was stakes-placed at the Vallejo County Fair in Solano earlier this year and is entered in a maiden race at Golden Gate Fields on Sunday.

"Every year, it's a culmination of a master plan," Barbara Butterworth said of the consignment. "Last year's consignment was exciting. This year, I look at them and say, 'Stay calm.' "

The Butterworths own a few of their horses, but primarily consign for others. They travel to Kentucky each November to buy broodmares and bring the mares back to California. This year's consignment to the California yearling sale is currently spread across the state. Four are based at West 12, which is in Lodi, Calif., between Sacramento and Stockton. The rest are at other farms and will be sent to the West 12 stable at Barretts in coming days.

"I've seen seven of the 13 in person, and I'm happy with six of them," Butterworth said.

But how will they sell?

That depends on whether any strength can be detected in the California yearling market, which has largely seen declines in the last year. Furthermore, a weakened economy has given Barbara Butterworth a cautious approach to the sale. She said the Northern California yearling sale that had declines last month "doesn't tell you anything" because it was an open sale that catered to a lesser class of horse.

"People call and say, what about the economy?" she said. "It will be a buyer's market. It doesn't mean that the horses won't sell. We ask our clients to put on a reasonable reserve. Everyone is different financially."

Late last week, she was already in sale promotion mode, mentioning a Benchmark filly, a Marino Marini filly, and a Yonaguska colt as ones with promise. How they do will be key to the success of the consignment, and how much buyers will need to spend for racing prospects.

Council Member to stand at Special T

Council Member, a horse by Seattle Slew who won two stakes in England, has been retired and will stand the 2009 breeding season for $4,000 at Special T Thoroughbreds in Temecula, Calif., the farm announced earlier this week.

Council Member, 6, raced for Mickey and Karen Taylor and won 5 of 24 starts and $347,306. Earlier this year, he was fourth in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Mile. In England, Council Member won two listed stakes at seven furlongs in 2005 - the Guisborough Stakes at Redcar and the King Charles II Stakes at Newmarket.