03/21/2010 11:00PM

Optimism ahead of Barretts sale

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These were the key figures for the 2009 Barretts March sale of selected 2-year-olds in Pomona, Calif. - a gross of $6,285,500, with 51 horses sold for an average of $123,245.

For Monday's sale, some of those figures are expected to increase. Kim Lloyd, vice president of sales for Barretts, anticipates a rise in prices from a down year in 2009 when the overall economy, and particularly the market for Thoroughbreds, was suffering. The average at the 2009 March sale was down 30 percent from 2008.

"I expect our March sale to be up over last year, the gross and average," Lloyd said recently.

Lloyd, a former trainer, credits a stronger catalog, with support from a core of Florida-based pinhookers, as one main reason that it could be more expensive to buy a 2-year-old at Barretts on Monday. The catalog has 134 horses, with support from Florida-based 2-year-old specialists such as Jerry Bailey, Ciaran Dunne, and Becky Thomas, to name three. Last year, Dunne's Wavertree Stable, as agent, sold the $650,000 sale-topper.

The Barretts March sale is one of the most prominent 2-year-old in-training sales in the world.

There have been three prominent 2-year-old in-training sales in Florida in the last month, and they have had mixed results. The Ocala Breeders' Sales Company February sale was down in average and median from last year, while the Fasig-Tipton Calder sale was up in average and median.

Another 2-year-old sale, the OBS March sale held earlier this week, saw average and median prices increase over last year, but a decline in gross.

The catalog for Monday's Barretts sale is larger by 11 horses compared with last year, but much smaller than the 190 horses offered in 2008.

Lloyd said Barretts should benefit from an expected strong middle market for the Monday sale, with horses selling between $150,000 to $200,000.

"We'll have quite a few in that range," he said.

One horse that is already outside of that range is an Unbridled's Song colt (Hip No. 130) who was purchased last summer at the Fasig-Tipton July yearling sale for $225,000 by Dapple Bloodstock. Dunne, as agent, is consigning the colt Monday. The colt is out of King Shooting Star, a 7-year-old Storm Cat mare who was unplaced in one start.

Dunne has nine horses in his consignment. B.C. 3 Thoroughbreds has 18 yearlings, selling horses from its own consignments and on behalf of other clients. Andy Havens, John O'Hara, Scott Bergsrud, and Murray Smith all have consignments with 10 or more horses.

There are 24 California-breds in the sale, including a filly and colt by Tribal Rule, the sire of Alphie's Bet, who won the Sham Stakes and is a contender for the Santa Anita Derby. There also are California-bred fillies by In Excess; a filly by Unusual Heat, the state's leading sire by progeny earnings in 2008 and 2009; and a filly by Tiznow.

Regardless of how a horse appears on a catalog page, a training preview at adjacent Fairplex Park on Friday and personal inspections by owners and trainers in the days leading to Monday's sale will have a major affect on how buyers approach the event.

"What we hope for is that everyone sells their horse," Lloyd said. "Bring a horse to sell, get them sold, and go home with money. Where the market is, we can't control that."

Lloyd believes that buyers are less reliant on their stopwatches at training previews than in past years when horsemen short-listed the juveniles with the quickest one-furlong and two-furlong times. Friday's preview was scheduled for late morning and early afternoon.

"You don't have to down there in 10 flat to get a horse sold," Lloyd said. "If they go down there well and they look good, you can get them sold."