08/17/2006 11:00PM

Northern sale's average grows for third year

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It took three years, but the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association's northern California yearling sale has begun producing the results that organizers expected when the sale was founded.

Last Tuesday, the one-day sale at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton, Calif., grossed $1,351,600 when 165 horses sold for a record average of $8,192. There were 58 horses bought back. The average grew 8.6 percent over 2005, while the median of $4,000 remained unchanged from last year.

When the sale was inaugurated in 2004, CTBA officials had hoped the sale would average $7,500. The 2004 sale averaged $6,874, while the 2005 sale average was $7,582. Surpassing that level was vital this year, according to CTBA executive director Doug Burge.

"What we saw with this sale, and we saw it a little last year, is there is a very strong market in northern California if you have a yearling that meets the demands of the marketplace," Burge said. "You go through the results and you see yearlings that were bringing prices that haven't been seen in northern California in a long time."

The sale topper was a Benchmark colt sold for $72,000, the highest price in the three-year history of the sale. In 2004, a Royal Cat colt topped the sale for $47,000. Last year, a Bertrando colt topped the sale at $50,000.

This year, nine yearlings sold for $40,000 or more, and four sold for $50,000 or higher.

"A couple of years ago, $40,000 was the sale topper, if you were able to get to that point," Burge said. "I was really pleased with the way the breeders supported that sale in the north and south, particularly in the north."

Benchmark, the second-ranked stallion in the state by progeny earnings, was the leading sire in the sale. He had six horses sell for $171,400. Benchmark stood for $10,000 in 2006. Four of his yearlings in Tuesday's sale sold for $10,500 or more.

The sale topper was consigned by River Edge Farm, agent, and was sold to Harry Aleo, the owner of 2005 champion sprinter Lost in the Fog. The colt is a half-brother to the stakes winner Ode to Elaine.

A Benchmark colt and an Unusual Heat filly sold for the second-highest price of $60,000. The Benchmark colt, consigned by River Edge, was purchased by Super Horse Inc. He is the first foal out of Brisquette, who placed second in the Grade 3 Las Flores Handicap at Santa Anita in 2003.

The Unusual Heat filly was consigned by Sam Hendricks, agent, and was listed as purchased by GCCI of San Francisco. The filly is out of Time to Move, who was stakes-placed.

Burge said interest in the yearling market at the northern California sale could lead to higher prices at the Barretts October yearling sale, a joint venture between the CTBA and Barretts. The sale was conducted for the first time in 2005 and had an average price of $25,311.

"I think it bodes well" for the October sale, Burge said. "We have screened all the yearlings that are in that sale. Knowing the quality that we have, I think that sale will do well."

The California October yearling sale will be held Oct. 3 at Fairplex Park in Pomona and will feature 327 yearlings.