06/28/2002 12:00AM

Lots of Cal-breds at Del Mar Yearling Sale


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The 2002 Del Mar Yearling Sale will feature 159 yearlings in August, a slight increase over the number offered last year.

The two-day yearling sale, which will be conducted by the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association on Aug. 11-12 at the Del Mar HorsePark, features a catalog heavily influenced by California-breds, including yearlings by major stallions Bertrando, Cee's Tizzy, General Meeting, In Excess, Memo, and Swiss Yodeler.

The sale is moving to a Sunday-Monday format this year with both sessions starting at 7 p.m. Earlier this year, the CTBA received nearly 600 nominations and inspected 500 yearlings on pedigree and conformation standards. In early May, 166 invitations were issued to yearling owners. Last year, the two-day sale averaged a record $43,663, an 18 percent increase over the previous record of $36,798 set in 1999.

California Cup changes

Although the stakes schedule for the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting has not been finalized, significant changes will be made for the California Cup program on Nov. 2.

A $100,000 turf race for fillies and mares over 1 1/4 miles will be run in place of a starter handicap for female claimers.

"Something we don't have on our program is distance races," said Wes Fitzpatrick, the president of the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association. "As it is now, we don't do much to give incentives for longer distance races in California. We breed sprinters."

Fitzpatrick said the CTBA's race committee had held discussions recently with Santa Anita racing officials regarding changes to the California Cup. Two starter handicaps remain on the schedule - one over 1 1/2 miles on turf and one over six furlongs on dirt. In previous years, the sprint starter handicap was run over 5 1/2 furlongs.

The full stakes schedule for the Oak Tree meeting is expected to be released in July. In addition to the California Cup day, there will be two $75,000 stakes for 2-year-olds run on the opening week, which are designed as preps for the California Cup Juvenile and Juvenile Fillies.

Gobi Dan better than his price tag

Everything about Gobi Dan screams overachiever. His sire, Huckster, stands for $1,500, and his dam, Jellicent raced at the $10,000 claiming level. As a 2-year-old last year, Gobi Dan sold for $4,000 at the Barretts May sale.

Since then, the story changed remarkably. Racing for Mike Settipane and Bob Dickelman, Gobi Dan has become a stakes winner, won three other races and earned $214,770.

On Sunday, Gobi Dan starts in the $200,000 Cinema Breeders' Cup Handicap over 1 1/8 miles on turf at Hollywood Park. Trained by Paddy Gallagher, Gobi Dan won the $100,000 California Sires Stakes over a 1 1/16 miles on turf on May 30. He was entered for the Grade 3 Affirmed Handicap against Came Home last weekend, but was scratched in favor of Sunday's turf race.

Gobi Dan was bred by Carl and Olivia Cannata, who still own the 10-year-old Jellicent. Gobi Dan is the dam's lone stakes winner. She has a 2-year-old by Jaggery John, who was sold at Barretts in January for $20,000, and yearling filly by Elegant Ease, a Mr. Prospector horse who has since been sold to Mexico, Olivia Cannata said.

Jellicent lost her foal of 2002, a colt by Category Five. The colt was born earlier in this spring, but died a few weeks later. "Something happened in utero," Cannata said. "We kept him alive and sent him to the hospital, but he didn't make it. That was heart-breaking."

Cannata said that Jellicent has been bred back to Huckster, making the 2003 offspring a full sibling to Gobi Dan.