10/09/2003 11:00PM

Golden Eagle's 16 lots gross $365k


The Barretts October preferred yearling sale on Tuesday showed growth compared to last year, leaving organizers optimistic about further improvement in coming years.

Overall, 236 horses sold for $3,214,000, an average of $13,619. The gross was an improvement of 18 percent from last year, while the average grew 8 percent. The median grew by 19 percent, to $9,500.

The sale-topper was an Event of the Year filly purchased for $160,000 by Bruno de Berdt, agent for Mary Schroeder and Jim Vreeland. Schroeder and Vreeland own Uppity Kitty, the winner of the Courtship Stakes at Bay Meadows last weekend. Vreeland owns Devious Boy, the winner of the Oak Tree Derby at Santa Anita on Oct. 4.

Named Storm Aftermath, the Event of the Year filly has been shipped to Florida to be broken and will eventually be sent to trainer Jeff Bonde, de Berdt said.

"We don't think we'll run her as an early 2-year-old," de Berdt said. "We'll give her all the time. We'll probably start her as a late 2-year-old and early 3-year-old."

Consigned by Golden Eagle Farm, she is a California-bred by the unraced Stormy Regina, a 9-year-old by Storm Cat. The yearling filly is a half-sister to Storm Witch, who was third in the 2001 Three Chimneys Juvenile Stakes at Churchill Downs.

De Berdt said he outbid several prominent trainers for the filly.

"I thought she'd bring between $150,000 and $200,000," he said. "There were a small handful of top horses. She kind of jumped out at you. It was neat to be able to bid on a horse with a lot of interest in her."

Overall, de Berdt led all buyers, acquiring five yearlings for $258,000. Golden Eagle Farm led consignors, selling 16 yearlings for $365,000.

The increases in major categories are an encouraging sign to Barretts president Gerald McMahon. He cited an increase in the number of horses sold for $40,000 or more - from eight in 2002 to 16 this year - as another sign of growth.

"We keep moving forward," he said. "It's a matter of convincing breeders to give us better horses."

An In Excess filly was the only other horse to sell for six figures. Out of the multiple stakes winner Above the Table, the filly was purchased by John Campo III for $105,000. She was part of the consignment of Mary Knight, who was somewhat disappointed by the sale.

"I'm thinking the high cost of training horses in the marketplace is hurting the California market," Knight said.

"It was very much a buyer's market. They're picking and choosing because it costs so much. They don't take anything that doesn't have the conformation, pedigree, and looks.

"I can't be unhappy because we sold a filly for $100,000 and one for $50,000."

McMahon took a contrary point of view, citing support from buyers throughout the Southwest and not just California, where horsemen are plagued by escalating workers' compensation costs.

"These buyers are very enthusiastic," he said. "All of the horses that have decent conformation sold well. It's critical that breeders and consignors self-assess. We haven't been in a market that people will pay a lot of money for horses with less desirable conformation in a long time.

"I think it's an open sale and nature is not always kind to the breeder. To me, the fact that we've got people that will take a chance is great. They came from all over the place."

The sale came two months after a disappointing Del Mar yearling sale, in which prices fell from record levels. Since then, Del Mar and Fairplex Park completed successful race meetings, stirring hope for a general rebound in the sport.

More evidence of that could come on Oct. 27-28 when Barretts hosts a mixed sale that comprises breeding stock, yearlings, weanlings, and horses of racing age.

* Freespool, a multiple stakes winner retired earlier this year, will stand at stud at Rick Taylor's Special T Thoroughbreds in Temecula, Calif., beginning in 2004. Freespool will stand for $3,000, Taylor said.