12/10/2003 12:00AM

Numbers up across board at winter sale


PORTLAND, Ore. - The market for horses was remarkably strong at the Washington Thoroughbred Breeders Association's annual winter mixed sale, held at Emerald Downs last Sunday.

A total of 151 horses sold for $728,600, an average price of $4,793. Gross receipts were up 30 percent, and the average was up 44 percent from last year's winter sale, when 167 horses were sold for $557,200, an average of $3,337 each. The median price also increased from $2,200 to $2,700, a gain of 23 percent.

Yearlings led the way, with 89 head averaging $6,547. That was an increase of 70 percent over last year's average price of $3,841 for 110 yearlings.

Almost all of the highest-priced hips were yearlings, including the sales topper, a Kentucky-bred colt by Favorite Trick who was purchased by Robert Hilden of Olympia, Wash., for $31,000. The colt, who is out of the stakes performer Gold Card, was consigned by Woods Creek Training Center.

The top-selling filly was a Kentucky-bred daughter of Louis Quatorze and Adornment who brought a bid of $26,000 from trainer Howard Belvoir, who was acting as an agent. She was consigned by McMurry Thoroughbred Services.

Sixteen weanlings averaged $2,731, an increase of 14 percent from last year, and 28 broodmares averaged $2,464, a gain of 61 percent. Only 24 of the 211 hips cataloged, or 11 percent, were withdrawn before the sale, and just 35, or 16 percent, failed to attain their reserves.

Barber back in town with a bang

Shawna Barber returned to Portland Meadows last weekend after riding at The Meadowlands and Monmouth Park for most of the summer and fall, and it wasn't long before she figured in some of the largest payoffs at the meeting.

Barber booted home 95-1 shot Thenameismolly in Monday's nightcap, producing payoffs of $192 to win, $92.80 to place, and $24.40 to show. Thenameismolly combined with 52-1 shot Glen Conscience for a $2 exacta of $1,703.80 and a $2 quinella of $1,340.80, and those two combined with 15-1 shot Elegant de Ledo for a $1 trifecta payoff of $11,198.40.

Barber, who will be married later this month to Chris Dragone, a Magna Entertainment executive, plans to ride here for at least the next two weeks, and she may return after the first of the year.

Monday's handle of $591,509, incidentally, set a new high-water mark for the meeting. The majority of the wagering - $539,134 - came from out of state.

Icicle Angel gets mile victory

Icicle Angel filled a gap in her otherwise impressive r?sum? in Saturday's feature at Portland Meadows, a one-mile allowance for fillies and mares.

Icicle Angel, a 6-year-old daughter of La Saboteur, had won 9 of 42 starts at several different tracks, including Santa Anita and Emerald Downs, for earnings of over $123,000. Before Saturday's race, however, she was 0 for 10 in races beyond 6 1/2 furlongs.

She took care of the oversight in authoritative fashion, assuming the lead before going a half-mile and widening to the wire, where she held a 10 1/2-length advantage over runner-up Run Free. Icicle Angel, who was sent off as the 8-5 favorite, got the distance in 1:41.33 under Karen Knapp.

"I've always thought she should be at her best miling, so it's nice to see her finally win at this distance," said trainer Dick Occhiuto. "She has run some good races at a mile, including a third against good company at Santa Anita, but she never quite got the job done."

The victory was a timely one, because there are no more sprint stakes on the schedule for older fillies and mares. The next stakes for the division is the City of Roses Stakes at a mile on Dec. 27.

Upset in Columbia River

Youth was served in Friday night's $8,150 Columbia River Handicap for Quarter Horses at 400 yards, as 3-year-old Mr Eye Will upset the venerable In Search of Fame in 20.50 seconds.

In Search of Fame, the 6-5 favorite and 128-pound highweight off his record of 21 wins from 26 starts at Portland Meadows, seemed to have the race under control after breaking on top under regular rider Bobby Webb. Mr Eye Will finished fast on the outside to snatch victory by a head, however, and Beluga Star got up to edge In Search of Fame for second by a nose.

Mr Eye Will, an Oregon-bred son of Mr Eye Opener who races for breeders Donald and Peggy Boyle, had won 8 of 17 prior starts, including a Challenge Derby at Lethbridge, and he was coming out of a $175,000 stakes at Los Alamitos. Nevertheless, trainer John Harris, who also saddled Oh Bobbett and Dot of Honor in the Columbia River, wasn't sure Mr Eye Will was his best chance of winning.

"This was his first race against older horses, and you never know quite what to expect when you hook those tough old veterans," said Harris. "It was a good test for him, and I'm pleased with the way he ran. It looks like he'll fit pretty well here."

Harris said Mr Eye Will, who was ridden by Joe Crispin, will likely make several more starts at the current meeting.