08/11/2003 11:00PM

Del Mar average declines

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Prices rose modestly at Monday's final session of the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association's Del Mar yearling sale, but not enough to lift the two-day sale after a poor opening session on Sunday.

Monday, 53 yearlings sold for $1,952,500, an average of $36,840. The average price was an increase of 3 percent over the corresponding session in 2002. Another 23 horses were listed as not sold, 31 percent of the yearlings who went through the ring. By comparison, Sunday's session averaged $31,162 and had a 44 percent buy-back rate.

Overall, 90 yearlings sold for $3,105,500. The average price of $34,506 was a 21 percent decline from the record average of $43,770 in 2002.

The sale-topper was a California-bred colt by Smokester who sold for $160,000 on Monday. Consigned by Jack and Barb Hatch's Green Acres Farm, agent for breeder Vera Holloway, the colt was sold to a partnership of Ernie Moody's Mercedes Stable and Dave Hulkewicz.