09/06/2007 11:00PM

Cal-breds skipping Kentucky for local sales

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The mammoth Keeneland September yearling sale, which runs from Tuesday through Sept. 25 and comprises 5,553 yearlings, will be held largely without California-breds this year.

Last year, 35 California-breds were cataloged, with 20 selling for an average of $32,410. The most expensive yearling among the group was an In Excess filly purchased for $110,000. She has yet to start.

This year, there are only 14 California-breds in the sale and most are sired by stallions that stand in Kentucky. Only four California-based stallions are represented in the yearling group.

The lack of California-bred yearlings can be partially attributed to the schedule of yearling sales in California.

Over the next month, two major yearling sales will be conducted in California - the Northern California yearling sale at Pleasanton Sept. 25 and the California October yearling sale at Barretts in Pomona on Oct. 2.

Both sales showed growth in 2006 and may be prove to be more attractive to yearling owners who do not want their prospects lost in the flurry of activity in a major Kentucky sale. Buyers that attend the California sales are looking, in part, for California-breds. The same cannot be said of buyers at Keeneland.

In addition, the markets are completely different. The Northern California sale caters to buyers unwilling to spend as much as a Keeneland buyer. Some yearlings at the Barretts October sale would fit at Keeneland. The 2006 Barretts October yearling sale had an average of $25,362 and a sale-topper of $240,000, figures that would be suitable to the final days of the Keeneland sale.

At Keeneland, none of the 14 California-breds will be sold this Tuesday or Wednesday, the most prestigious days of the sale. The first California-bred through the ring may turn out to be the most expensive of the group.

An In Excess filly who is a half-sister to the millionaire Brother Derek, the multiple stakes winner Don'tsellmeshort, and the stakes-placed Swissle Stick is Hip No. 1126 and will be sold Thursday.

Consigned by Brookdale Sales, agent for breeder Mary Caldwell, the In Excess filly is also a half-sister to Mike and Leo, a winner of $202,489.

Cris Caldwell, Mary's son and one of Keeneland's auctioneers, said that California breeders should be more active at major sales such as Keeneland in an attempt to improve the statebred program.

"We think it's incumbent for California breeders to breed a horse that can sell back there in Kentucky," he said.

The filly's pedigree will attract attention.

Brother Derek, a winner of 6 of 16 starts and $1,593,458 for Cecil Peacock, was the champion 3-year-old California-bred male of 2006. He won the 2006 Santa Anita Derby and was fourth in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. Brother Derek is being pointed for a 2008 campaign. He has not started since finishing third in the Strub Stakes at Santa Anita in February.

The other three California-based stallions with California-breds in the sale are Marino Marini, whose first foals are yearlings this year, and the veteran stallions Event of the Year and Beau Genius.

The Beau Genius colt sells as Hip No. 5382 on Sept. 25 and is out of Miss Lawless, a half-sister to Joey Franco, the 2003 California-bred horse of the year.

The Golden Eagle Farm of Betty Mabee and her son Larry is beginning the first phase of a massive reduction this fall, and is offering four yearlings at Keeneland. The Mabees have one California-bred in that group, a filly by More than Ready out of the unraced 10-year-old mare Jeweled Lady. Jeweled Lady is a full sister to General Challenge and Western Hemisphere. General Challenge earned $2,877,178, won three Grade 1 stakes, and was a two-time statebred champion.