05/07/2009 11:00PM

Will Storm Cat colt be hot item?


As a $550,000 yearling purchase last September, the Storm Cat colt who sells as Hip No. 55 at Monday's Barretts May sale of 2-year-olds in training is a gamble for consignors Randy Hartley and Dean De Renzo.

The Florida horsemen bought the colt themselves last September at Keeneland, knowing that as part of one of the pensioned stallion's last crops he could prove attractive at a 2-year-olds in training sale.

The question on Monday is whether that enthusiasm will extend to potential buyers in a soft market for 2-year-olds in recent months.

"Nine times out of 10, you hope they bring a million-dollars plus," De Renzo said on Thursday. "I hate to speculate. We hope we do well with him. He's kind of exciting to have."

Monday's sale is one of the final 2-year-old sales of the year. The sale has a mixed recent history. A colt by Red Bullet sold for a May sale record of $2.5 million in 2006, but the seven-figure barrier has not been cracked in the last two years. At the 2008 May sale, 147 horses sold for an average of $53,173, a decline of 15 percent from 2007.

Barretts vice president Bill Baker says the company is "cautiously optimistic" about prospects for Monday. "I think there will be some good values," he said. "There is a wide range of horses. We do have some very good horses."

At the more prestigious Barretts March sale earlier this year, the sale topper was a Tiznow colt who sold for $650,000. The average price of the March sale was down 30 percent from 2008, and De Renzo is braced for a similar decline this year.

"With today's economy, I'm not sure what people are thinking, whether they'll spend," he said. "It's human nature, people want to wait and see.

"It's still a good market for the right horses. The top horses will fetch the stronger prices. You have to prepare yourself to have a good selection of the top horses."

Any prospective 2-year-old must work well in training previews, and, most importantly, pass inspection from prospective owners and trainers in the days leading up to the event.

At Thursday's training preview, the Storm Cat colt zipped a furlong in 10 seconds, a fifth of a second slower than the quickest time for the distance. The Storm Cat colt is out of the Delaware Park stakes winner Lights On, who earned $216,920.

Two horses were timed in 9.80 seconds for a furlong - a Sky Mesa colt consigned by Hartley-De Renzo who cost $100,000 as a yearling at Keeneland in 2008, and a Five Star Day colt consigned by McKee Bloodstock who was listed as not sold for $19,000 at the 2008 Barretts January mixed sale.

Over a quarter-mile, the quickest juvenile was a Songandaprayer colt consigned by Hartley-De Renzo who was purchased for $100,000 at the 2008 Keeneland yearling sale.

"We scheduled to come out [to California] with some real good stock, hoping that we would have a good audience to show," De Renzo said.

De Renzo said the Sky Mesa colt was originally scheduled to be sold at a sale in February, but was withdrawn.

"We thought he'd do better if we gave him more time to mature," he said. "You don't want to push them if they are immature."

A second preview session, featuring the horses in the second half of the catalog, was held on Friday.

The one-day sale on Monday begins at 1 p.m. Pacific. One colt certain to be scrutinized is Hip No. 24, a Southern Image colt who is a half-brother to Kelly Leak, the winner of the Sunland Park Derby in March.

The sale includes 93 California-breds, including juveniles by freshmen stallions Indian Country, Our New Recruit, and Singletary.

The California-breds include an Our New Recruit colt (Hip No. 20), who is the first foal out of Grant Marty a Wish, the winner of the Daisycutter Handicap at Del Mar and $291,366. There is a Swiss Yodeler colt (Hip No. 101) who is a half-brother to the stakes winner Nevada Worrier ($176,343) and a Swiss Yodeler filly (Hip No. 137) who is from the family of the 2006 champion sprinter Thor's Echo.