08/12/2011 2:57PM

Northern California sale trying something new


The Northern California yearling sale at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton, Calif., on Tuesday has undergone a transformation this year, in an effort to increase interest and boost revenue.

In addition to 90 yearlings, there are 15 horses of racing age being offered for the first time, with most of those unraced 2- and 3-year-olds.

Operated by the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association, the one-day sale begins at noon.

“This has been a service for the breeders in Northern California to provide an outlet and market for the ones that don’t ship south” for sales, said Doug Burge, the general manager of the breeders’ group.

“It’s been a useful sale. A lot of horses do make it to the races and do win.”

Last year, 82 horses were sold for $357,400, an average of $4,359, which was down 15.2 percent from the 2009 average of $5,146. The 2010 median was $3,000, down from $3,250 in 2009. Burge did not predict the business for Tuesday’s sale, but said that the horses of racing age should help increase attendance.

“For this year, because we don’t do inspections, the success of the sale depends on the product,” Burge said. “The horses of racing age have added interest to the sale. We’ve got some horses that have won. People are looking for made horses right now. Hopefully we can pick up and improve on last year.”

The 2010 sale-topper was a Kafwain colt, but the sale did produce Sherman Bartlebort, who won the Everett Nevin Alameda County Futurity at Pleasanton last month. Sherman Bartlebort, a gelding by Tannersmyman, was purchased for just $6,500 at the 2010 sale.

For this year’s sale, the California-based stallion Tannersmyman is represented by 10 yearlings, the highest in the sale along with Don’tsellmeshort, whose oldest foals are 2-year-olds this year.

The sale includes yearlings by first-crop stallions Bedford Falls, Crossword, Lucky J.H., McCann’s Mojave, and Mister Acpen. Lucky J.H. and McCann’s Mojave were multiple stakes winners. McCann’s Mojave is best known for winning the $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream Park in January 2008.

Soviet Problem euthanized

Soviet Problem, the California-bred multiple stakes winner who finished second in the 1994 Breeders’ Cup Sprint, was euthanized last week because of the infirmities of old age, according to a statement released by Harris Farms on Wednesday.

The 1994 California-bred Horse of the Year, Soviet Problem was 21 and had resided at Harris Farms in Coalinga, Calif. During her racing career, she won 18 of 20 starts and $905,546 for owners John Harris and Don Valpredo and trainer Greg Gilchrist. Soviet Problem won four other statebred championships – 3-year-old female and sprinter of 1993, and champion older female and turf horse of 1994.

As a broodmare, she produced one stakes winner, Uncle Don, who earned $105,860, and Escape With Me, the dam of current turf sprint star Unzip Me, a winner of 11 of 20 starts and $743,003. Unzip Me was entered in Friday’s Daisycutter Handicap for female turf sprinters at Del Mar, seeking her eighth stakes victory.

Soviet Problem’s last two foals, a 2-year-old by Unusual Heat and the 3-year-old Good to Be King, by Gulch, are currently in training at Harris Farm.

“She gave 100 percent in every race,” Harris said in a statement released by the farm. “We will always have fond memories of all the fun times we had with her. She will live on in pedigrees as the grand dam of Unzip Me, who shows her gameness and speed.”