02/13/2004 1:00AM

Yearling sale considered for Alameda


ARCADIA, Calif. - The California Thoroughbred Breeders Association is considering relaunching a yearling sale in northern California later this year for the first time since 1993.

Discussions were held earlier this week at the organization's annual business meeting in Sacramento. Further meetings with potential consignors are expected in coming weeks, according to CTBA executive vice president Doug Burge.

Burge said the potential sale would need approximately 150 horses to go forward and is tentatively scheduled for late September at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton.

Burge cautioned that if the event is not financially viable it will not go forward.

"The breeders are adamant that there should be a yearling sale venue in the north," Burge said. "The CTBA is not in the position to subsidize the sale in northern California. I wanted them to understand that, and they did.

"They were willing to adhere to certain requirements that must be met - a minimum number of horses, commission, and fees. It costs $115,000 so we need to generate $115,000 in revenue to justify it," he said. "Those things were explained, and the breeders understand it. They see the benefit of a sale there. It's in their backyard."

For years, northern California yearling owners have had the added expense of shipping horses to sales in southern California or Washington. The presence of a northern California sale could lead many to stay closer to home.

In recent years, American Equine Sales has conducted a yearling sale in August, but the company is no longer in operation. The CTBA has not conducted a sale in northern California since a mixed sale was held at Bay Meadows in September 1993. That sale saw 97 horses sell for $440,500, an average of $4,542. Two yearlings topped the sale at $24,000.

In comparison, the well-established Del Mar yearling sale has had mixed results. The sale slumped in the early 1990's, but rebounded in the late 1990's and the last few years. Last year's sale was down, off record levels in 2002. In addition, Barretts in Pomona has established an October yearling sale for late developing prospects.

"We have developed a good market at Barretts for yearlings that don't make Del Mar," Burge said. "We don't want to disrupt that market."

Burge also said there is no current plan to offer a mixed sale in northern California this year.

Burge said meetings are scheduled in coming weeks with potential consignors and with officials from the Alameda County Fair.

"The key is that we are supported by enough horses to make it work financially and that we meet our minimum number of horses," he said.

Joey Franco named Horse of the Year

Joey Franco, a four-time stakes winner, was named the 2003 California-bred Horse of the Year in a vote conducted by the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association members. The award was announced at a ceremony in Sacramento last Monday.

Joey Franco races for owner-breeder Jerry Frankel. In 2003, Joey Franco won 4 of 10 starts and $452,361.

By Avenue of Flags, Joey Franco made his first three starts of 2003 for David Hofmans before being sent to Darrell Vienna in March.

For Vienna, Joey Franco was at his best in the spring and summer, winning three consecutive stakes at Hollywood Park - the Tiznow Stakes for state-breds, the minor Ack Ack Handicap, and the Grade 1 Triple Bend Breeders' Cup Handicap.

Following an eighth-place finish in the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap, Joey Franco scored his final stakes win of the year in the Grade 2 Del Mar Breeders' Cup Handicap over a mile.

Joey Franco has not started since finishing fourth in the Grade 2 Goodwood Breeders' Cup Handicap on Oct. 4. Currently sidelined by injury, Joey Franco is expected to return to racing by summer.