10/15/2010 1:36PM

Rise in average at Barretts sale fuels optimism


The California Cup yearling sale at Barretts in Pomona, Calif., showed a year-to-year increase in average price earlier this week, the first such increase since 2006 and one that left organizers optimistic that California’s yearling market can rebound from low returns in recent years.

The two-day sale, held Tuesday evening and Wednesday afternoon, saw 160 yearlings sell for a gross of $2,260,400, an average of $14,128. The average price increased 13.8 percent over the 2009 figure of $12,413. In 2006, the average was $25,362, $51 higher than the 2005 sale.

“We’re definitely on the upward trend,” said Kim Lloyd, Barretts vice president of sales. “It won’t bounce straight up, but it is going up. We had a lot of participation from the owners. It had a much stronger feel to it than we had in the last couple of years.”

This year’s sale had a two-day format to accommodate the dispersal of West Coast broodmares and weanlings from Marty and Pam Wygod’s River Edge Farm in Buellton, Calif. The Wygod dispersal was held Tuesday afternoon, followed by a session of yearlings that evening. A second yearling session was held Wednesday afternoon.

“I think some of the stronger yearlings were on the first night,” Lloyd said. “There were plenty of good ones on the second day. I think there was some momentum on the second day. The dispersal helped with that, and it helped with the opening night.”

The sale-topper was a Bertrando colt who sold for $105,000 at Tuesday’s yearling session to Arnold Zetcher, president of the Thoroughbred Owners of California.

The Bertrando colt was consigned by the Wygods, who led all consignors during the yearling sale with 31 yearlings selling for $489,000, an average of $15,774. The Wygod’s yearling consignment was described by the sale company as a major reduction of West Coast yearlings. On Tuesday, the Wygods sold 88 broodmares and weanlings for $823,100, an average of $9,353.

While the average price this year was well below figures from the last decade, Lloyd said he was encouraged by a low buyback rate in which 19.2 percent, or 38, of the 198 horses that went through the ring were listed as not sold. Last year, there were 80 horses listed as not sold from 258 that went through the ring, or 31 percent.

“Nineteen percent buybacks is good for yearlings,” he said.

Lloyd said one factor that may have encouraged buyers is the decision by Santa Anita to install a conventional dirt track this fall, in time for the winter-spring meeting that begins Dec. 26. He said such a surface could have aided “buyer confidence.”

Lloyd said a two-day format will be seriously considered for future sales. “I imagine we’ll do that again,” he said.

On Wednesday, the session-topper was a filly by Unusual Heat who sold for $70,000 to Jim Abel. She will be trained by Mike Machowsky, but first will spend the winter in Washington where she will undergo early training, Machowsky said.

Machowsky described the Unusual Heat filly as “a really elegant filly.”

He said Abel, of Lincoln, Neb., had been outbid on a few fillies at Keeneland in September and looked to the Barretts sale for further acquisitions.

◗ Many Rivers, a Storm Cat colt and half-brother to the millionaire racehorse and stallion Harlan’s Holiday, will stand the 2011 breeding season at Victory Rose Thoroughbreds in Vacaville, Calif. He will stand for a $3,000 fee.

A 5-year-old, Many Rivers won 2 of 18 starts and $72,506 in his career. He made his final start at Santa Rosa in July, finishing fifth in a $20,000 claimer for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. At 2, Many Rivers was third in the 2007 Gold Rush Stakes at Golden Gate.