The market slumped Oct. 2 during the California yearling sale, which posted its lowest numbers for number of horses sold, gross revenue, average price, and median price in the three years it has been conducted by Barretts in conjunction with the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association.
"We didn't really get the breakout horses at the top," Barretts president and general manager Jerry McMahon said. "The combination of pedigree, physical, and X-rays didn't produce any horses in the $200,000 range like we had the first two years. It just didn't happen.
"But it's also a fact that an awful lot of horses didn't compete for buyers. I think when you look through the sale summary, you will see success clustered in certain areas in terms of the type of horse and the type of consignment. You point to, for example, the Applebite Farms consignment, which was very strong across the board, and then you look in other consignments and there was a large percentage of failures."
The 169 yearlings that sold at Fairplex Park grossed $3,364,600 and averaged $19,909. The median was $11,000. Compared with last year, the number sold was down 1.2% from 171, and the gross declined 22.4% from $4,336,900. The average dropped 21.5% from $25,362, and the median plunged 31.3% from $16,000.
The buy-back rate rose from 38.7% last year to 40% this year to reach its highest point in the auction's history. The number of horses sold for six-figure prices fell from six to four, the lowest total ever for the sale.
A handsome chestnut colt from the first crop of Friends Lake brought the auction's top price, selling to California-based bloodstock agent and pinhooker Bruno De Berdt for $150,000. Andy Havens' Havens Bloodstock consigned the colt as agent for a pinhooking partnership headed by West Point Thoroughbreds president Terry Finley and Lewis Lakin. New Jersey bloodstock agent Buzz Chace purchased the colt for the partnership for $95,000 at this year's Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July select yearling auction.
"He's out of a nice family, and he just has so much presence," De Berdt said of the colt. "I was hoping the price wasn't going to be a whole lot higher because that was pretty much as far as I could really go."
De Berdt said he would have three other partners in the colt, which they hope to resell at next year's Barretts March select sale of 2-year-olds in training. "We wanted a real nice Cal-bred, and he was the nicest Cal-bred in the sale," he said.
Chace is in Maryland shopping for horses at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Eastern fall yearling sale. Reached by telephone, he said: "I thought the colt could have brought more, but I hear there aren't very many people out there (at Barretts). A lot of people from California are here in Maryland. We put him through the ring to sell, and Mr. Lakin and Terry are happy."
Chace said the colt was sent to California at the suggestion of Barretts vice president Kim Lloyd, who attended the Fasig-Tipton July auction. "(Lloyd) told us he thought (the colt) would work there, so we turned him over," Chace said.
The colt is out of the 16-year-old winning Mining mare Marchtothemine, who finished third in the 1996 Bangles and Beads Stakes at Fairplex. He is a half-brother to four-time winner Ellieonthemarch (by Old Trieste), who was second in the 2005 Orchid Handicap (gr. IIT) at Gulfstream Park.
The California sale's top-priced filly was a striking chestnut daughter of Swiss Yodeler that sold for $140,000 to Bill Peeples, a banking executive from Santa Barbara, Calif. B.C.3. Thoroughbreds, operated by Utah horsemen John Brocklebank and Shane Chipman, consigned the filly for Early Equine, which Brocklebank described as an investment group.
"She's athletic-looking, and she walks very well; I think she's very correct," Peeples said. "I like her size; she has a lot of scope. She's also a Cal-bred, and that's another reason I like her. I'm going to run her. She's athletic enough that I think she very well could be precocious."
Peeples is a B.C.3. client, but he said he didn't previously own an interest in the filly. She will be returned to Brocklebank and Chipman to be prepared for racing.
"That was a little more than I wanted to pay," Peeples told Brocklebank after signing the sale ticket, adding that he originally had planned to spend no more than $90,000 for the yearling. But Peeples had to go past his limit to hold off trainer Jeff Bonde and De Berdt.
The filly is the second foal out of the 10-year-old winning Sharp Victor mare Yes We Do, who finished second in the 2002 Work the Crowd Handicap on turf at Golden Gate Fields. Other members of the family include grade III winner Daisy Do and her grade III-winning son Answer Do, an earner of $792,855.
Brocklebank, better known as a yearling-to-juvenile pinhooker than as a yearling seller, purchased the filly in the name of The Cove for $20,000 at this year's Barretts January mixed auction. Havens Bloodstock Agency consigned her to that sale for Pepper Oaks Farm.