01/24/2003 1:00AM

Newcomers willing to spend freely

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ARCADIA, Calif. - Prices rose across the board at the Barretts January mixed sale, helped by enthusiastic buying from racing newcomers Rich and Gaby Sulpizio.

The two-day sale saw 524 horses sell for $4,431,000, an average of $8,456 and a median of $4,000. All of those categories were higher than the corresponding sale in 2002. The average grew by a remarkable 19 percent.

The Sulpizios, who operate Magali Farms in Santa Ynez, Calif., led all buyers, purchasing 10 broodmares for $403,500. They acquired the farm last year and are actively building a broodmare band. The couple was active at the Barretts October mixed sale and this week acquired the sale topper, Catrina, a Storm Cat mare, for $110,000. Consigned by Berkey Bloodstock Services, agent for Ridder Thoroughbred Stable, Catrina sold in foal to Malek, whose first foals are yearlings in 2003. Catrina did not race. She is out of Marshua's River, a multiple stakes winner in the early 1990's.

The other broodmares purchased by Magali Farm ranged from $14,000 to $80,000. Farm manager Tom Hudson said the Sulpizios are buying broodmares to support Lit de Justice, the 1996 champion sprinter, whom they acquired last year, and Until Sundown, who will stand at their farm this year.

Hudson said Catrina will be bred to Lit de Justice. He said the Sulpizios have 20 broodmares and plan to offer consignments at yearling sales in future years.

Several champions resurface

Four of the eight California-bred divisional champions from 2002 were entered in major stakes over the weekend.

Humorous Lady, the outstanding 2-year-old filly, was entered in Saturday's Sunshine Millions Oaks. Disturbingthepeace, the outstanding sprinter, was entered in the Saturday's Sunshine Millions Sprint and Sunday's Palos Verdes Handicap, both at Santa Anita.

Two champions went to Gulfstream Park for the $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic on Saturday - Grey Memo, the outstanding older male, and Continental Red, the outstanding turf horse.

The other champions were Icecoldbeeratreds, 2-year-old male; Calkins Road, 3-year-old male; Super High, outstanding 3-year-old filly; and Above Perfection, outstanding older female. The California Thoroughbred Breeders Association announced the awards earlier this month. The Horse of the Year honor was scheduled to be announced Saturday at the CTBA's annual meeting held in conjunction with the Sunshine Millions Day at Santa Anita.

Although Grey Memo did not have the flashiest record in 2002 - he had two wins in 10 starts - he had the highest earnings among the champions, $808,000. Most of that came from his upset victory in the $1 million Godolphin Mile at Nad Al Sheba in Dubai last March. He later won the San Diego Handicap at Del Mar, but ended the year with a five-race losing streak.

A majority of the champions are expected to race in 2003. Icecoldbeeratreds and Super High are out of serious training because of injury. Calkins Road was being pointed for the Sunshine Millions Classic before a foot injury knocked him out of contention.

Above Perfection may be retired, although no official announcement has been made. A three-time stakes winner last year, she was recently sent to owner ClassicStar Stable's farm in Kentucky and is likely to be bred later this year.

In other categories, In Excess was recognized as the top stallion in overall progeny earnings and earnings by 2-year-olds. High Brite led the state's stallions in winners, and Swiss Yodeler was the leading first-year stallion.

John Mabee, who died last April, was the leading breeder by earnings. Doug O'Neill, who trained the California-breds Cee's Elegance, Lil Sister Stich, and Sky Jack to stakes wins, was named top trainer.