09/24/2004 12:00AM

One-day sale welcomed by breeders

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ARCADIA, Calif. - Northern California breeders, who have lacked a steady local venue to sell yearlings in the last decade, have thrown support behind Tuesday's Northern California yearling sale at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton.

Although the sale, conducted by the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association, is not expected to approach the impact of the established Del Mar yearling sale held each August, Tuesday's sale will fill a void left by the departure of the American Equine Sales Company, which held sales in August in recent years in northern California.

Tuesday's one-day sale features 192 yearlings and a supplemental catalog of 43 horses featuring a partial dispersal of racing stock owned by Golden State Stables. The stallion Vermont is part of the dispersal, along with mares, weanlings, yearlings, and 2-year-olds.

The CTBA launched plans for the yearling sale this year at the insistence of northern California breeders, many of whom had grown weary of the costs and time involved with shipping horses to Del Mar or to sales conducted at Barretts in Pomona.

Tuesday's sale has attracted yearlings by leading California stallions such as Benchmark, Bertrando, Cee's Tizzy, Flying Continental, In Excess, Moscow Ballet, Old Topper, and Swiss Yodeler.

"Compared to what has historically been offered in northern California, it's a huge improvement," said CTBA general manager Doug Burge. "We have a lot of interest based on the catalog. We've been sending catalogs not only to California but other Western states. The credit applications are pretty strong."

Earlier this year, CTBA officials emphasized to horsemen that 150 yearlings were needed to give the sale a chance to succeed financially. With the response from consignors greatly exceeding that figure, Burge said the sale has been more aggressive in advertising, and he projects an average price of $7,500.

"From the beginning, when the northern California breeders came to us and wanted us to fill the void, we explained we need at least 150 horses to break even," Burge said. "That was on a minimal budget. With the tremendous support we've received, it's allowed us to market the sale better."

The sale arrives during a crowded portion of the yearling calendar. The mammoth Keeneland September yearling sale ends a two-week run Monday, and the Barretts Preferred October yearling sale is a week later, on Oct. 5.

"Following Keeneland, and prior to Barretts, this gives trainers and owners an opportunity to come in and hopefully buy a reasonably priced horse that will be useful," Burge said. "I'm optimistic based on the way the sale has been received. We've heard from trainers from northern California, but also Southern California."

Foal report published

The Jockey Club's 2004 report of live foals by stallion was published earlier this month, listing registration of 3,757 foals from California. The figures are not complete because some breeders have yet to submit documents, but they reflect about 90 percent of the expected foals, according to The Jockey Club.

Among California stallions, five were bred to more than 100 mares in 2003: Swiss Yodeler (143), In Excess (111), Comic Strip (109), Valid Wager (104), and Skimming (101). Other stallions bred to 75 or more mares include Unusual Heat (97), Benchmark and Lord Carson (91), Bertrando (86), and Roar (82).

Swiss Yodeler ranked 16th on the national list by number of mares bred in 2003, well below leader Grand Slam at 197.

The mares bred to Swiss Yodeler produced 111 foals this year, the only California stallion to have a foal crop that reached triple digits.

Swiss Yodeler was California's leading freshman stallion in 2002.