09/02/2011 3:49PM

Emerald Downs: Washington Thoroughbred sale features strong catalog


AUBURN, Wash. – The Washington breeding industry will showcase its best efforts Tuesday during the annual Washington Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association yearling and mixed sale at Emerald Downs. The sale that produced millionaire sprinter Smiling Tiger in 2008 again is stocked with potential bargains, according to WTBOA president Dana Halvorson, and the mood is one of cautious optimism.

“It’s one of our best catalogs on pedigree,” Halvorson said. “We’ve got a lot of interest from people out of the area, so we’re hopeful it’s going to be a nice, solid sale. We’ve got a lot of interesting horses – there’s a half-brother to Atta Boy Roy, a full brother to Noosa Beach, an El Corredor filly who’s a half to Marva Jean, Melba Jewel, and all those, a Candy Ride colt . . . There’s a bunch of nice horses.”

Washington breeders bucked industry trends a year ago when the average sale price increased 26 percent from 2009 and the median increased by 22 percent. But those gains were offset by a decrease in gross revenue as 79 yearlings changed hands, down from 102 the previous year. The market was strong at the top, with five horses selling for more than $35,000, but soft at the bottom. Of the 119 select yearlings cataloged, four were withdrawn and another 36 failed to meet their auction reserves.

Halvorson, a longtime Northwest bloodstock agent, said a successful sale Tuesday is essential for the long-term health of racing in Washington. The average field size at Emerald Downs this summer is 6.6 horses per race, down 5.3 percent from 2010. Total participation, in terms of the number of starters over the course of the meeting, will be down about 14 percent when the meet wraps Sept. 25.

“It’s a very important sale for the business, to keep the breeders alive and well and to restock,” Halvorson aid. “There’s a shortage of horses. We’re hopeful people will build up their stock a little bit and invest in the future. We need to have more owners here to take up the slack. . . . With the breeding programs being diminished a little bit, it’s important to keep these people in business and support them. I’m optimistic there’s going to be a good group of people here buying horses. It’s just a question of whether they have the money right now.”

Among the potential sales-toppers:

◗ Hip No. 10: By first-year stallion Lucky J.H., he’s a half-brother to 2008 Longacres Mile winner The Great Face and to the brilliant sprinter Atta Boy Roy, who won the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Stakes on the 2010 Kentucky Derby undercard.

◗ Hip No. 13: A full brother to Noosa Beach, who won the 2010 Longacres Mile, one of his 11 career stakes victories at Emerald Downs. Consigned by Bar C Racing Stables in Hermiston, Ore., Hip No. 13 is one of 13 yearlings by Harbor the Gold in Tuesday’s sale. Harbor the Gold, who stands at Bar C, is the undisputed current king in Northwest breeding circles.

“I think this one will get a lot of action,” Halvorson said. “All the Harbor the Golds will. He’s a hot horse right now. There’s another good one in the sale, a full sister to Carrabelle Harbor.”

◗ Hip No. 37: A colt by Katowice out of a half-sister to Firesweeper, the newest member of the Washington Racing Hall of Fame. The dam, Nightatmisskittys, has produced three stakes winners, including Washington champion 2-year-olds No Constraints and Sundance Circle. Halvorson has a particular interest in this one – he’s the consigner.

“He’s just a grand-looking thing who’s going to get plenty of action,” Halvorson said.

◗ Hip No. 50: A full brother to Winter Warlock, a stakes winner at Emerald Downs last summer at 2.

◗ Hip No. 68: A colt by Candy Ride, whose four crops to date have included Grade 1 winners Sidney’s Candy, Misremembered, and Capt. Candyman Can, among many other stakes-quality runners. Hip No. 68 is out of Emerald Downs stakes winner Sudden Departure.

“Candy Ride’s a really hot horse,” Halvorson said. “I’d be surprised if that one didn’t get a lot of action.”

◗ Hip No. 92: A colt by More Than Ready from Washington champion 2-year-old filly Best Judgement.

“More Than Ready stands for $45,000 right now; he’s one of the very top sires,” Halvorson said. “He’s a good horse, a top-class horse. He’ll get some play from people who have some money.”

◗ Hip No. 101: An El Corredor filly from the productive Chasseur Dame, whose progeny include Washington champion mare Marva Jean and Emerald Downs stakes winner Melba Jewel.

The sale begins at 2 p.m. Tuesday in the Morris J. Alhadeff Sales Pavilion adjacent to Emerald Downs.