09/28/2006 11:00PM

Cal-bred interest key to Barretts sale


It takes a choosy selection process to find the 327 yearlings cataloged for Tuesday's California October yearling sale at Barretts in Pomona, Calif., according to Doug Burge of the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association and Gerald McMahon of the Barretts Sale Company.

From more than 600 nominations, the two executives and their inspection team have narrowed the list to a group of yearlings that they think will lead to higher prices at the one-day sale, which is considered the premier yearling sale in the state.

"I feel like we have a deeper top group than we had last year," McMahon said. "The lower end is about the same. We're certainly hoping to improve the average."

Whether that forecast is accurate depends on how buyers perceive the pedigrees and physical conformation of the yearlings, which are dominated by California-breds.

For the statebred market, there is certainly a strong number of yearlings by leading sires and from leading female families. There are full sisters to the California-bred champions Dream of Summer and Smooth Player; full sisters to the stakes winners Candy Factory and Unusual Heat; half-sisters to the stakes winners Dancing Edie, Go Go, Here's to You, Ringaskiddy, Smokin Mel, Super Tuesday, and Takin It Deep; and half-brothers to the stakes winners Collect Call, Crackup, Gobi Dan, Go Kitty Go, Hombre Rapido, Kitty on the Track, Rio Oro, Shadow of Illinois, and Sweet Stepper.

Tuesday's sale follows the inaugural California October yearling sale in 2005 that was a merger of the defunct Del Mar yearling sale and the Barretts October yearling sale. The 2005 sale, primarily consisting of California-breds, saw 207 horses sell for $5,239,400, for an average price of $25,311 and a median of $17,000. There were 76 horses bought back and 40 withdrawn.

By comparison, the 2004 Del Mar yearling sale had an average of $48,228 for 57 horses sold, but a high buyback rate of 48 percent. The 2004 Barretts October yearling sale had an average of $13,363 for 242 yearlings sold.

"Last year, we were able to prove to buyers and consignors that we were able to bring a quality group of yearlings," said Burge, the executive director of the CTBA. "I think we looked at a better group this year. We had a difficult time whittling that number down in what we saw in the conformation and physical nature of the yearlings. We really put more emphasis on conformation. We're looking for the athletic horse."

The 2005 sale has already produced nearly two dozen winners, Burge said. Two winners from that sale - Ces't Mark ($6,000) and Tonja's World ($85,000) - were entered for Saturday's Grade 1 Oak Leaf Stakes at Santa Anita.

Burge said he was excited that the CTBA's modest northern California yearling sale in August had an average price that increased by 8.6 percent - to $8,192 - and a record sale topper of $72,000.

"Our expectations are based on the current demand for California-breds and what we saw up north," he said. "They were selected on our criteria for minimum pedigree and conformation requirements."

Tuesday's sale features yearlings by nine of the 10 stallions in the state ranked by progeny earnings. They are top-ranked Bertrando as well as Swiss Yodeler, Benchmark, In Excess, Lord Carson, Formal Gold, Cee's Tizzy, Roar, and Storm Creek.

The only one missing from that group is Salt Lake, who is ranked sixth and stood his first season in the state this year.

While McMahon said he is reluctant to predict whether last year's sale-topping price of $290,000 will be exceeded, he does expect a higher average.

"By its nature, it's not super select," McMahon said. "We have horses for every market here. There are horses that are well sold for $10,000 and horses sold for six-figures. That's the nature of this market."