08/10/2006 11:00PM

Pleasanton sale expected to keep growing

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Organizers are predicting higher average prices at Tuesday's third annual northern California yearling sale in Pleasanton.

The 2005 sale showed modest growth compared to the inaugural sale in 2004, with 164 yearlings selling for an average of $7,582, a gain of 10 percent. The sale had a record gross of $1,243,500 last year. The sale topper was a Bertrando colt who sold for $50,000, and six yearlings sold for $30,000 or more.

While those results are modest compared to some sales, the figures are expected to grow, according to Doug Burge, the executive director of the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association. He said this year's catalog is stronger than the previous two.

"We've had tremendous interest in the sale, and a lot of that is stimulated by the strength of the catalog," he said. "The sires and the female families, compared to what was offered two years ago, it's night and day."

Tuesday's catalog has 246 yearlings, about the maximum that can be accommodated at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton, Burge said. Leading California-based stallions such as Benchmark, Bertrando, In Excess, Swiss Yodeler, and Unusual Heat all have at least three yearlings in the sale.

There are also yearlings by Bay Runner, Tannersmyman, Skimming, Richly Blended, and Tribal Rule, sires whose first foals are 2-year-olds this year.

Richly Blended, who earned $323,280 and won two stakes, died of colic last week. He is represented by two yearlings in the sale, a colt and a filly.

The sale has first-crop yearlings by America's Storm, Avanzado, Capsized, Decarchy, Freespool, Gotham City, Gulf Storm, Highland Gold, Lake William, Makors Mark, National Saint, Stormy Jack, Takin It Deep, and Walk That Walk.

Burge said that "six to eight" of the yearlings in Tuesday's sale were also accepted to the more prestigious California October yearling sale at Barretts. Those yearlings will be offered this week, he said, but he did not identify them.

The October sale is a merger of the now-defunct CTBA Del Mar sale and the Barrett October yearling sale.

The presence of the yearlings accepted to the October sale may affect prices, Burge said.

"Based on the quality of the catalog and the interest, and knowing there are a few yearlings that we accepted for the preferred sale in October, I believe we should exceed last year," Burge said. "Based on a pedigrees standpoint, and I have seen a number of these horses because they were cross-nominated [to the October sale], I know the quality is out there. I think it will be a pretty good sale."

The August sale has been helped by the success of stakes-winning horses offered in the past two years. Last October, Bai and Bai, who was bought for $3,200 in 2004, won the California Cup Juvenile Fillies. She has won four of 10 starts and $205,223.

Last Sunday, Super Image, who was purchased for $35,000 at the 2005 sale, won the $64,775 Cavonnier Juvenile Stakes at the Sonoma County Fair in Santa Rosa. He has won two of three starts in his career.

High Demand's first starter is his first winner

High Demand, whose oldest foals are 2-year-olds, was represented by his first winner when High in the Air won a maiden claimer at the Sonoma County Fair on Monday.

A gelding, High in the Air was High Demand's first starter. High in the Air ran five furlongs in 59.09 seconds.

High in the Air races for the Mabee family's Golden Eagle Farm. High Demand, by Danzig, stands at Golden Eagle in Ramona and had a $5,000 fee in 2006.