03/15/2007 11:00PM

Success stories bode well for Barretts


California's Barretts March select juvenile auction will take place Tuesday in a sale season that, so far, is showing signs of getting over last year's mania.

Recent select 2-year-old auction returns have returned to earth after a record-breaking season last year, and Barretts officials are hoping for a sound, profitable auction, with maybe some million-dollar cream on top.

The Barretts March sale has some positives lining up in its favor.

First among those are Barretts March graduates such as recent Gotham Stakes winner Cowtown Cat, last year's $1.5 million sale-topper, whose exploits are helping drum up good advertising. He follows Dubai Escapade and What a Song, more recent examples of high-flying graduates. (Incidentally, What a Song's half-brother by Yes It's True is in the current catalog as Hip No. 197.)

"I think the performance of horses in the last couple of years has attracted more horses to the sale and more buyers," said Barretts president Jerry McMahon. "And this year, the sale is deeper than it was last year. In terms of the bread-and-butter horses, we're stronger in the middle, and we're stronger at the bottom."

Yearling-to-juvenile resellers, or pinhookers, have invested more on average in the horses they are bringing to this year's auction; the average Barretts pinhook's yearling price rose from about $70,000 last year to about $90,000 this season, McMahon said. The yearling market in general rose last year, making the average yearling necessarily more expensive. But McMahon points out, "The yearling market didn't go up by 30 percent last year, but our sale's average pinhook price did."

It's important for sales to market those bread-and-butter horses, as the middle- to lower-market horses make up most of any catalog. To help them in that effort, Barretts hired former trainer Kim Lloyd as vice president of sales.

"It's about convincing some of the local players here that there are plenty of good horses here," McMahon said. "In Southern California, there's enough buying power to support the sale, but you have to match up the horses and the buyers."

The Barretts catalog features a phalanx of freshmen sires, including 2003 Horse of the Year Mineshaft, champions Aldebaran and Vindication, and classic winner Empire Maker. And there are some sparkling pedigrees worth noting.

There are two Storm Cat colts, one a half-brother to multiple Grade 1-winning millionaire Harlan's Holiday and another out of the Saint Ballado stakes winner Country Romance. There are a host of horses closely connected to Grade 1 performers, including Hip No. 6, a Leestown half-brother to Wonder Lady Anne L; Hip No. 14, a Fusaichi Pegsasus daughter of Bella Chiarra; Hip No. 75 is an El Corredor colt out of Fit to Scout; Hip No. 81, a full brother to Wild Fit; Hip No. 84, a Cherokee Run half-brother to Saratoga County; Hip No. 108, a half-brother to Take the Ribbon; Hip No. 153, a Grand Slam half-sister to Viz, who also is the dam of Epsom Oaks third-place finisher Relish the Thought.

Also in the catalog are a full sister to $802,364 earner During, selling as Hip No. 19; a Cherokee Run half-brother to Commitisize, Perfect Six, and Rusty Spur (Hip No. 78); a Grand Slam half-sister to $488,157 earner Stage Player (Hip No. 130); and a Stravinsky half-brother to $532,244 earner Disco Rico.

Some familiar stakes-winning mares have their first foals on offer. Among those are Bruanna, whose Came Home colt sells as Hip No. 28, and Elektraline, whose Cherokee Run colt is Hip No. 68.

The first two so-called boutique sales of the season, the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co.'s February auction and the Fasig-Tipton Calder sale, saw modest declines from last year. A year after it set a world-record Thoroughbred price of $16omillion, Fasig-Tipton's Calder auction on March 6 cooled down with a $2.5 million sale-topper and drops in gross and average price, though median gained a healthy 25 percent.

The one-day Barretts auction will take place Tuesday at Fairplex in Pomona, Calif., starting at 2 p.m. Pacific.

Chelsey Flower fondly remembered

Chelsey Flower, the Grade 1 winner and stakes-producing broodmare who died after a difficult foaling on March 14, is much missed at Crestfield Farm.

Crestfield client Jaime S. Carrion bought her in 1997 for $1.1 million, and she went on to produce foals that brought a combined $2.25 million in the auction ring. But she was also a farm favorite, according to Robert E. Courtney Jr., whose family owns Crestfield.

"We were all really fond of her," he said. "She was tough in many ways. She was the last one to be caught to come in every evening. She was one of those mares you had to spend a lot of time with, but she never caused us any trouble."

Courtney recalls that Chelsey Flower tended to produce large foals, averaging 140 to 160 pounds.

"That's what eventually caught up with her," he said, adding that her final foal, a Dixie Union colt, weighs about 150 pounds. He's doing fine.

Carrion only has one filly from Chelsey Flower, a Silver Deputy yearling he will retain. The Dixie Union colt will likely head to auction.

Chelsey Flower has been buried at Crestfield next to Inreality Star, dam of 1990 champion 2-year-old filly Meadow Star.

OBS under-tack show postponed

The Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. postponed its scheduled March 16 under-tack preview for the OBS March select 2-year-old sale after heavy rains.

That postponement means that Hip Nos. 1-260, originally scheduled to work on Friday, were scheduled to work instead on Saturday. Breezes by Hip Nos. 261-520 were bumped to Sunday. Both sessions will be held at 9 a.m. Eastern at the OBS facility in Ocala, Fla.

The second series of under-tack shows were still planned for their original dates of March 23 and 24, also at 9 a.m. at OBS.

The OBS March select juvenile auction will take place at OBS on March 27-28, with sessions beginning daily at 11 a.m. OBS also will conduct the Adena Springs 2-year-old sale on March 26 at Adena Springs in Williston, Fla., starting at 5 p.m.