05/06/2004 11:00PM

Will Barretts favor buyers or sellers?

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The 2-year-old sale market has been strong throughout the nation in recent months, which may lead to higher prices at Tuesday's Barretts May sale of 2-year-olds in training in Pomona, Calif.

While the Barretts March sale and other major events in Florida and Kentucky attracted buyers from throughout the world, Tuesday's one-day sale caters more to regional buyers. Without that international impact, predicting whether it will be a buyer's or seller's market is more difficult, according to Barretts president Gerald McMahon.

"The market has been strong everywhere, so you hope it carries forward," McMahon said. "The May sale is dependent on the California owners and trainers and March is more of an international sale. We'll take the pulse of the California industry with this sale."

The May sale had a record-breaking year in 2003 when it was held over two days, producing the most expensive filly and male in the event's history. The sale topper was a French Deputy filly purchased for $375,000. Named Cambria Gold, she has yet to start.

The colt, by Gilded Time, was bought for $335,000. Named Evolution, he won a maiden special weight race at Santa Anita on April 3.

Two California-breds who are multiple stakes winners were offered at that sale - Don'tsellmeshort and Yearly Report. Don'tsellmeshort, purchased by Cecil Peacock for $75,000, has won three stakes. Don'tsellmeshort finished second in the $250,000 Snow Chief Stakes on April 24.

Yearly Report won the Grade 2 Santa Ynez Breeders' Cup Stakes at Santa Anita in January and the $200,000 Melair Stakes at Hollywood Park on April 24.

At the 2003 sale, Yearly Report was sold by Golden Eagle Farm to a partnership for $95,000, but later returned because of concerns over soundness. Golden Eagle Farm retained the filly, who has since won $258,400.

Overall at the 2003 sale, 236 horses sold for $7,186,600 for an average of $30,452. The average was an increase of 10 percent over 2002.

"I think this sale is very comparable," McMahon said. "We've been improving this sale in small increments. I'm hoping we can bump this up a thousand dollars or two. That's dependent on breakthrough horses in the market."

The original catalog for Tuesday's sale included 332 horses, but through Thursday there were 87 withdrawals. The remaining 245 horses were scheduled to preview in workouts or gallops at Fairplex Park on Friday and Saturday.

The impressions those 2-year-olds make on prospective buyers will heavily influence the sale prices.

"You don't have a good feel until they work," McMahon said. "There are a number of well-bred horses that if they work well and they X-ray good, should sell well."

McMahon said the move to a one-day sale allows buyers an extra day on Monday to view horses and for a last-minute check of X-rays.

He said many of the withdrawn horses were not ready. McMahon predicted that 40 to 50 of the withdrawn horses will sell at the company's newly created summer sale of horses of racing age and 2-year-olds June 29.

"That sale is providing another spot for horses that need more time," he said. "The May sale has a lot of scratches and always has."

McMahon said the June sale will not close until after Tuesday, leaving the possibility that some horses that do not sell this week can be offered again next month.