08/29/2008 12:00AM

Northern sale the subject of debate after poor session

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The future of the Northern California yearling sale will be discussed by promoters and consignors later this year after a disappointing sale on Tuesday in Santa Rosa, Calif.

The one-day sale saw 104 horses sell for a gross of $471,700, an average of $4,536 and a median of $2,500. The gross fell 47 percent, and the average fell 22 percent from the 2007 sale, which was held in late September in Pleasanton.

The sale-topper was a Salt Lake filly who sold for $37,000. Last year, the sale-topper was a Siberian Summer colt purchased for $40,000.

"It was a really soft sale," said Doug Burge, executive director of the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association. "Overall, the prices reflect the lack of demand and desirability for the product that was offered. Combine that with the future cost of getting these horses to the track and the uncertainty of racing in Northern California.

"We'll look at everything and sit down with the people and see what would like us to do. The results were disappointing to everyone involved. We'll discuss what the future will be in regards to having a sale up north. Do the breeders and consignors want to have a sale up north?"

Burge said a meeting would likely be held in the fall, after California's fall selected yearling sale at Barretts on Sept. 30. The breeders' association and Barretts are co-sponsors of that sale, which has a different format than the Northern California sale. The Northern California sale is an open sale, while the Barretts sale has a screening of pedigrees and an inspection of yearlings earlier in the year.

Burge and other officials of the breeders' association hoped that a move to an August date and a change of venue would boost the Northern California sale. This was the fifth year for the sale, and the first year it was held at Santa Rosa. The sale began earlier this decade in response to a request from Northern California breeders to have a regional sale and to not have to ship their horses to Southern California.

"We do this as a service to Northern California breeders," Burge said.

Ten Churros looking a solid purchase

The purchase of Ten Churros earlier this summer has proven to be a successful gamble for Hal and Patti Earnhardt and trainer Bob Baffert. Ten Churros won the Generous Portion Stakes for statebred fillies at Del Mar on Wednesday.

After Ten Churros won a $40,000 claiming race for maidens at Hollywood Park in June, Baffert was approached by a bloodstock agent informing him that the filly was for sale. A private deal was finalized and the High Brite filly was transferred to Baffert's stable from the Jeff Mullins barn. The filly was owned by a partnership at the time.

Ten Churros finished fourth as the 5-2 favorite in the CTBA Stakes on July 18, fading from contention in the final furlong. She was sharper in the Generous Portion Stakes, drawing off in the final furlong to win by 2 1/2 lengths.

"We thought she'd be tough in these stakes," Baffert said of the sprints for statebred fillies at Del Mar. "We bought her to win the first Cal-bred stakes. At least we one won."

The private purchase was the second time that Ten Churros has changed hands. Bred by John Harris, she was sold to Close Creek Farm, agent, for $10,000 at the 2007 Barretts October yearling sale. She was withdrawn from the Barretts May sale of 2-year-olds in training earlier this year from the consignment of B.C.3 Thoroughbreds, agent.

Racing for Mullins, Ten Churros finished sixth in a maiden special weight at Hollywood Park on June 5 in her debut, and returned three weeks later to win the maiden claimer.