05/13/2004 11:00PM

Cost of 2-year-olds in training rises


In the days before Tuesday's Barretts May sale of 2-year-olds in training in Pomona, Calif., Barretts president Gerald McMahon predicted an increase in prices from last year and said the sale would "take the pulse of the California industry."

But growth to record levels for average and median at the sale took him by surprise.

In the one-day sale, the average price increased 22.5 percent, to $37,371, and the median grew 58.8 percent, to $27,000.

With fewer horses selling and a change from a two-day sale to one day, the gross fell 1.8 percent, to $7,053,000 for the 189 horses sold. In 2003, 236 horses were listed as sold.

Still, the cost of buying a late-season 2-year-old in training, and in some cases a juvenile that has already won, grew substantially.

"It was a really good move statistically and it seemed across the board," McMahon said. "We had made an effort to bring it down to a one-day sale because we thought that format worked better. We wanted to put all the buyers in one place at one time. We eliminated some of the weak pedigrees at the bottom and that helped the median."

Proof that sale prices increased market-wide, and not just at the top, was evident in the number of horses that sold for $100,000 or more.

In 2003, there were 14 horses that sold for $100,000 or more, but this year there were 11. In addition, the 2003 sale produced a sale-topper of $375,000, while the sale-topper this year was a Belong to Me filly purchased by NW Management and Fleetwood Bloodstock on behalf of Stan Fulton for $350,000.

"That was the only thing we were missing. This year, we didn't have a breakout horse," McMahon said. "I thought we would have one of those."

McMahon said the 2005 sale is likely to be held on one day. "We'd like to grow the volume but it takes time," he said.

McMahon said some of the horses that failed to sell could be offered at the new summer sale of horses of racing age and 2-year-olds in training on June 29.

NW Management and Fleetwood led all buyers, with two acquisitions for $625,000. Their other purchase was a Crafty Prospector colt, for $275,000, the highest-priced male sold at the sale.

The most expensive buyback was a Seattle Slew colt who is a half-brother to 1991 champion turf male Tight Spot. Consigned by Asmussen Horse Center, agent, he was bought back for $225,000.

Of the 11 horses sold for $100,000 or more, three were bred in California - a Rio Verde colt bought for $160,000 by Buckets of Money Stable; a Swiss Yodeler colt purchased for $100,000 by Pegasus Thoroughbred Training Center; and a Valid Wager colt bought by Michael Bello for $100,000.

The sale of the Rio Verde colt, named Rythm River, was the dispersal of the partnership of Buckets of Money Stable and Russ Lovingier, according to trainer Leonard Duncan. Rythm River won his debut in a $40,000 maiden claimer at Hollywood Park on April 25. Duncan said the group received a private offer of $80,000 but decided to offer the colt at the sale.

Buckets of Money includes Raymond Lucia Sr. and Jr., and George Milbroad, Duncan said.

"We took a chance running him for $40,000," Duncan said. "Fortunately, it worked. We could have easily have lost him."

Duncan said that Rythm River will start in the Willard Proctor Memorial on May 23 or the Malcolm Anderson Stakes at Bay Meadows in June.