03/10/2006 1:00AM

Goals of Barretts sale more modest

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A month after a juvenile sale in Florida sold a horse for an astonishing $16 million, the officials behind the Barretts March sale of 2-year-olds in training do not expect to duplicate that feat on Tuesday, when the sale is held on the grounds of the Los Angeles County Fair in Pomona.

Demi O'Byrne, who represents the Coolmore partnership of Ireland which bought the $16 million 2-year-old, and John Ferguson, who represents Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai, the underbidder on the record-setting colt, are expected to be present at the Barretts sale.

After a quiet year at the 2005 Barretts sale for those groups, their activity level may go a long way to determining the business figures of the sale. Last year, Barretts sold 88 horses for an average price of $163,188, down 6 percent from the 2004 sale.

Barretts president Gerald McMahon declined to project an average price for this year's sale, which has a catalog of 181 horses, though withdrawals will bring that number lower. He said the sale's success is reliant on how well horses sell at midlevel prices.

"A lot of that is dependent on a horse or two," he said of the average. "A $2 million horse affects our average a great deal, and I don't know that we'll have that kind of horse.

"Our sale's makeup will have a broad spectrum of expected prices. It's not just top-heavy [with big-ticket horses], but others that will be sold at $50,000 or $60,000 as well."

Regarding the $16 million 2-year-old, McMahon said such a price reminded him of the old summertime sales held in Kentucky.

"That was Keeneland in July, in Florida in February," he said. "That's what it looked like to me. I don't think it had a lot of relevance" for the Barretts sale.

Last year, the 2005 Barretts sale topper was the ill-fated What a Song, a Songanda-prayer colt who was purchased for $1.9 million by Bob and Beverly Lewis. The colt won his first three starts, including two stakes, but suffered a sesamoid injury at Del Mar last summer and was euthanized.

What a Song was part of a strong group sold at last year's sale, including Brother Derek, the leading contender for the Kentucky Derby; Wild Fit, who seeks her second Grade 1 win in Sunday's Santa Anita Oaks; and the graded-stakes winners Dance Daily, Henny Hughes, and Unification.

Buyers form their opinion of individuals in the sale largely through presale workouts, inspections through X-rays, and veterinary reports.

The first session of workouts was held on March 5, with the second scheduled for Sunday. The second workout session could be postponed to Monday if the forecast rain hits and the Fairplex Park track is muddy on Sunday.

Last week, eight horses worked a furlong in 10 seconds - two colts by Orientate and one each by Carson City and Stormin Fever, and fillies by Distorted Humor, Forestry, More Than Ready, and Tactical Cat.

A colt by Richter Scale had the fastest quarter-mile time of 20.80 seconds. Fillies by Tale of the Cat and Chief Seattle were timed in 21 seconds.

Another quick work was turned in by a Storm Cat filly that went a quarter-mile in 21.20 seconds. Out of the multiple stakes winner Parade Queen, the filly was purchased for $310,000 at the 2005 Keeneland September yearling sale by Becky Thomas, who has made several successful pinhooks at this sale in recent years.

Said McMahon, "Now, it's a matter of whether the pieces fall together, how the horses scope, and how their X-rays are - all the stuff that it takes to sell a 2-year-old."