09/30/2005 12:00AM

Combined sale to take market's temperature


Tuesday's California October yearling sale at Barretts in Pomona will offer a keen perspective on the health of the California bloodstock market.

The first-time sale is something of an all-star event, a merger of the state's two leading sales - the defunct Del Mar yearling sale, which had been conducted annually in August by the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association, and the Barretts October yearling sale, which attracted a second tier of yearlings behind Del Mar.

"It should be a perfect indicator" of California bloodstock values, said Gerald McMahon, the president and general manager of Barretts. "I'm pleased with the quality of the horses that we've gotten. There are enough of them it should attract buyers from around the region, at least. There have been a lot of good performances by California-breds. The ingredients are there to determine what they are worth."

The merger of the two sales has resulted in a one-day event offering 324 yearlings and designed to showcase the best commercial yearlings the state can produce.

Last year, the final Del Mar yearling sale had a record average of $48,228 for 57 horses sold, but the sale was plagued by a high buyback rate of 48 percent. The 2004 Barretts October yearling sale had an average of $13,363 for 242 yearlings sold, a decline in average price of only 2 percent from 2003.

"In combining the two sales, I would hope that our average is around $19,000, overlapping the two sales and eliminating the bottom of our sale," McMahon said.

There is a concern, he acknowledged, about how many horses will be bought back by consignors who expect more.

"I would hope that number doesn't get too high," McMahon said. "I don't think we'll be overburdened with that. The makeup of the consignments is that people will want to sell them."

When the catalog was finalized during the summer, McMahon said, there was an emphasis on conformation.

"This is not slanted toward pedigrees by any means," he said. "We took out a lot of pedigrees that would have been at the top of the pedigree chain. We inserted some solid physical [yearlings]. I'm hoping we have a lot of buyers that can find a $15,000 horse, and the top can take care of itself. The strength of this market should be a stronger physical [presence] than in the past."

Business at Tuesday's sale will be boosted by the presence of a solid catalog, which includes yearlings by such top California stallions as Bertrando, In Excess, Lit de Justice, Lord Carson, Roar, Swiss Yodeler, and Unusual Heat.

The sale also features yearlings by freshmen stallions High Demand, Include, Mizzen Mast, Officer, Skimming, Three Wonders, Tribal Rule, Until Sundown, and Yonaguska.

Skimming had a large book of foals for a California-based stallion when his first crop reached hit the ground in 2004. In Tuesday's sale, Skimming has a yearling colt by 2004 California broodmare of the year Rio Tejo, the dam of the stakes winners Giovannetti, Guillermo, and Rio Oro.

Another former California broodmare of the year with a presence in the sale is Image of Super. She is the second dam of a High Brite colt out of Image of Glory, a two-time stakes winner who earned $300,031.

Bertrando, who through Thursday led the state's stallions in progeny earnings this year, has 11 colts and 12 fillies in the sale. Of those, 19 are part of the 39-horse consignment of River Edge Farm, agent. Bertrando stands at River Edge in Buellton.

Golden Eagle Farm has a seven-horse consignment, including a Giant's Causeway colt out of Molly Girl, a sister to multiple stakes winner General Meeting.