08/11/2002 11:00PM

Del Mar: First-night average dips

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DEL MAR, Calif. - Despite a $250,000 session topper, Sunday's first night of the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association Del Mar Yearling Sale failed to keep pace with a record sale in 2001.

On Sunday evening at the Del Mar HorsePark, 51 yearlings sold for $2,431,500, an average of $47,676. The average price was down 11 percent from the opening night of the 2001 sale, but higher than the overall 2001 average of $43,663, a record.

Last year, the average price dropped from $52,918 from the first session to $35,418 on the second night.

On Sunday, there were 22 buy-backs, or 30 percent of the yearlings who went through the ring. The buyback rate at the 2001 first session was 25.7 percent.

"We sold very well, but we had some speed bumps," said Doug Burge, the CTBA's general manager.

Stan Fulton of Las Vegas, who led buyers at the 2001 sale, purchased the $250,000 session-topper, a filly by Unbridled's Song, through NW Management of Santa Rosa, Calif. Fulton owns Sunland Park, near El Paso.

Despite being by a Kentucky-based sire, the filly is considered a California-bred because her dam, Running Redhead, was bred back to a California stallion. The filly was the highest price at the sale in 10 years, but Fulton thought he might have to pay more.

"We thought we got a bargain," Fulton said. "Everything about this filly catches your eye. Now if she can only run a bit, we'll be happy."

The filly was consigned by Tom Stull's Tommy Town Thoroughbreds.

Two other yearlings were sold for six figures.

Fulton bought a General Meeting filly from Golden Eagle Farms, agent, for $115,000. Overall, Fulton bought four yearlings for $465,000.

David and Holly Wilson bought a Kentucky-bred Rahy colt for $130,000 from Otter Creek Farm, agent.