03/03/2005 12:00AM

Statebreds need pair of factors to compete

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The catalog for the Barretts March select sale, in Pomona, Calif., includes 30 California-bred juveniles, a healthy number considering that California-based operations rarely point 2-year-olds specifically for this auction.

"Our breeders here aim for the yearling sales," said Jerry McMahon, president of Barretts, "and their 2-year-old market is more heavily aimed at our May sale."

But there is definitely room for California-breds at the Barretts March sale, which some major Southern California-based owners and trainers often attend. The key is to have enough pedigree and athleticism to compete in a market traditionally dominated by Kentucky- and Florida-bred pinhooks that ship from out of state.

In general, McMahon pointed out, the price those pinhookers paid for yearlings last year went up, and that fact is reflected in the California-bred portion of the catalog, too. One obvious example is Hip No. 54, a Stravinsky colt who is the first foal for the unraced Mountain Cat mare Mountain View. Pinhooker Cam Allard paid $190,000 for the colt at Fasig-Tipton's July yearling sale last season, well above the $75,000 average pinhook investment that McMahon estimated for the Barretts catalog. Hip No. 54's price undoubtedly was affected by his pedigree: His dam, Mountain View, is a daughter of the millionaire mare Pine Tree Lane.

Cal-bred status can add value for owners who race primarily in the state and wish to take advantage of its statebred incentive program. But in a market known for selective, top-end buyers, statebreds, like every other horse in the sale, must also offer as much pedigree and physical attractiveness as possible if they are to bring big prices.