08/19/2016 3:23PM

Underwhelming numbers at Northern California sale


The Northern California sale of yearlings and horses of racing age may have a smaller catalog in 2017 after disappointing results for consignors this week.

Tuesday’s sale in Pleasanton, Calif., saw 136 horses sell for $1,028,200, a decline in gross of 32 percent from 2015, when 130 horses sold for $1,503,500. The average price declined 35 percent to $7,560. The median fell 47 percent from $7,500 in 2015 to $4,000 this year.

The catalog was expanded from 195 prospects to 240 this year, which may have been too great of a leap, according to Doug Burge, the president of the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association, which conducted the sale.

“I think it was too big,” Burge said. “We didn’t have a lot of depth in the buyer pool. It was softer than we thought.

“We’ll have to assess this within our sales committee. We’ll make some decisions for next year and beyond.”

One notable absence among buyers was Vern Dickman.

In 2015, Dickman, through bloodstock agent and trainer John Brocklebank, was the leading buyer, acquiring six horses for $167,000. Dickman and Brocklebank parted ways earlier this year. While Brocklebank was active for other clients, Dickman was not listed as a buyer Tuesday, according to results provided by the CTBA.

Burge emphasized that the sale remains a “service” sale for Northern California-based breeders and owners.

“It’s an open sale,” Burge said. “It’s not a select sale. The product brings what the market dictates.

“Some consignors were pleased, and others were not. It’s the nature of the sale business. It’s the CTBA’s goal to host the sale and give people an outlet to sell their horses.

“Some people that were there, they brought 15 horses. They said, ‘I’m not taking anything home, and I’m happy.’ ”

Tuesday’s average and median were closer to figures in 2013, when the sale averaged $6,007 and had a median of $4,000. Burge said a decline in buyers in the $7,500 to $15,000 range affected Tuesday’s sale.

The leading hip at the sale was a City Zip colt sold for $50,000 to Southern California trainer Bob Hess Jr. The colt is out of Mama Ruth, who was third in the 1999 Mississippi Futurity at Fair Grounds. The colt is a full brother to Tosheen, a five-time winner in Southern California who earned $150,050.

Burge said that for some breeders, the payoff may not have been fully realized on Tuesday, depending on how racing prospects perform in coming seasons. As an example, he cited My Friend Emma, who won the $63,550 Jess Jackson Owners’ Handicap at Santa Rosa on Aug. 13.

The 4-year-old gelding was purchased as a yearling at the 2013 Northern California Sale for $1,000. My Friend Emma has won 5 of 12 starts and earned $153,431.

“You’ve got breeder and stallion awards,” he said. “What might look like a loss today might be profitable down the road through the incentive program.”

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