09/27/2001 11:00PM

One-day Barretts an economic bellwether


The market for statebred yearlings will be tested at the October preferred yearling sale on Tuesday at Barretts in Pomona. The sale starts nearly two months after a successful sale at Del Mar, but three weeks after terrorist attacks have led to concern regarding the mood of buyers.

Gerald McMahon, president of Barretts, said he was encouraged by the August Del Mar sale, but said recent events have left him uncertain how buyers will treat a lower-end market, which is the focus of Tuesday's sale.

"Now we'll see how the world markets affect our local horsemen," he said. "When the top end of the California market does well it should help the other horses.

In between the two sales, McMahon said, "we've had a lot of uncertainty. That will be a question mark I think it should be a buying market for owners."Last year's sale averaged $8,580, a drop of 33 percent from 1999. As a result, Barretts management reduced the number of yearlings offered from 415 in 2000 to the 334 in Tuesday's catalog. The reduction has led to a one-day sale this year instead of a two-day event. The sale begins at 11 a.m.

"We don't have a select session," McMahon said. "We screened out the bottom end on pedigree. I know we have some nice horses on pedigree."

Entries for Tuesday's sale closed after selections were completed for the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association's Del Mar yearling sale.

Consequently, horse owners who had yearlings not selected for that sale could apply to the Barretts sale. Some owners simply preferred to wait for Tuesday's sale, McMahon said.

"A lot of people say they held horses because of later foaling dates," he said. "Others said they didn't get an opportunity [to sell at Del Mar], and some only had one horse in Del Mar and didn't want to do that. They wanted to sell three or four. There were a lot of factors."

Tuesday's sale includes eight yearlings by Bertrando, the sire of Breeders' Cup Juvenile hopeful Officer, who starts in the $500,000 Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park on Oct. 6.

An example of the kind of horse typically sold at Barretts is Mama Mama, who sold for $6,200 last year. A modestly bred filly, by Bonus Money, she earned $20,000 with a second-place finish in Thursday's $100,000 fillies division of vthe California Sires Stakes. Recent stakes winner sold at Barretts October include Queenie Belle (California Cup Matron), Go Go (Las Flores Handicap), and Trailthefox (Arlington Washington Futurity).

"That's kind of representative of what you can get here," McMahon said.

This year's sale includes a consignment of 20 yearlings owned by John Zamora's J.Z. Stock Farm, and 12 yearlings consigned by Vessels Stallion Farm. Zamora's consignment is the first stage of a dispersal that will continue at the Barretts mixed sale in late October. Zamora said during the summer that he is concentrating on his newly purchased printing business in Los Angeles and will keep only a few racehorses. Havens Bloodstock Agency is selling the consignment.

Vessels Stallion Farm did not offer yearlings at the Del Mar sale, though several were submitted for consideration. The Vessels consignment, handled by Mark Knight, agent, includes six by In Excess, including a filly who is a half-sister to Suspicious Minds, who was stakes placed at Hollywood Park.

How these yearlings are received depends largely on what has happened outside of racing.

"While the first week [of the Keeneland September sale] held up well, we're now in a situation of seeing what the real world is like," McMahon said.

"Consumers are spending less on frivolous things. Maybe there will be more people that will stay in racing at home. Perhaps owning a Cal-bred is something people will want to do."