Gross receipts and average price were down for the first of two nights of the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association's Del Mar yearling sale on Sunday, but the median increased marginally and the session boasted the highest-priced yearling sold by the CTBA in more than a decade.
The opening session, conducted at the Del Mar Horse Park just a couple of miles east of Del Mar racetrack, saw 51 yearlings sell for $2,431,500, an average of $47,676 and median of $40,000. Gross was down 6.2% from the opening night in 2001, while the average price fell by 9.9%. Median was up 2.6% from last year. Buy-backs rose from 25.8% to 30.1%, with 22 of the 73 offered being returned to their consignors.
The top-priced yearling, a California-foaled filly by Unbridled's Song out of Running Redhead, by Storm Bird, sold for $250,000, the highest price since 1992, when Bob and Beverly Lewis paid $275,000 for Boss Soss. The filly was consigned by Tommy Town Thoroughbreds, which purchased Running Redhead in foal to Unbridled's Song for $115,000 at the Keeneland November sale in 2000 from 505 Farms and the estate of the late Marshall Naify.
NW Management of Santa Rosa, Calif., was listed as buyer of the top-priced filly, along with three other yearlings for a total of $465,000, making the operation owned by Stanley Fulton the night's leading buyer. Fulton, who was also leading buyer at last year's CTBA sale, owns Sunland Park in New Mexico and was the founder of Anchor Gaming. Fulton has purchased 17 yearlings this year, according to one of his advisers, Tim McMurry of Fleetwood Bloodstock.
Diane Rochelle of Eagle Oak Ranch was the immediate underbidder on the session topper.
The top-priced colt during Sunday evening's session was a Kentucky-bred by Rahy out of Nijmis, by Nijinsky II. Consigned by Otter Creek Farm, agent, the colt was purchased by David and Holly Wilson, with trainer Vladimir Cerin and David Wilson's father, Logan, representing them at the sale. Apparent underbidder on the colt was William Goddard, whose 8-year-old daughter made most of the bids on his behalf until Cerin's winning bid of $130,000. Cerin and Wilson said they've had luck with Rahy offspring, most notably with Early Pioneer, a $62,500 claim that later won the $1-million Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I).
The only other horse to reach six-figures was a General Meeting filly out of Sparkling Star,by Lyphard. Sold by Golden Eagle Farm, agent, she was purchased by NW Management.
First-year sire Free House got off to a good start with three yearlings averaging $58,333, nearly four times his 2002 stud fee of $15,000. Event of the Year, another first-year sire, had two sell for a $41,000 average, with another bought back for $85,000.
"We were stacked the first night last year (when the average was $52,918) and much weaker on the second night," said Doug Burge, the CTBA's general manager. "From what we've heard from buyers and consignors, we're just as strong if not stronger for the second night this year. Given what's happened around the country and other yearling sales, we're not disappointed with the results tonight."
The final session begins Monday night at 7 p.m. (Pacific).