A California-bred filly by millionaire Event of the Year, out of the unraced Storm Cat mare Stormy Regina, brought a final bid of $160,000 to top the Barretts October preferred yearling sale Tuesday in Pomona, Calif. Bruno de Bert, agent, signed the ticket on the filly, named Storm Aftermath, who was consigned by Betty Mabee's Golden Eagle Farm.
"She was the standout of the sale," de Berdt said. "She's very well-balanced with good scope and a pedigree to match. She had all the reasons to buy her."
According to de Berdt, the filly was purchased on behalf of a partnership, which he declined to name, and will be sent to Florida for her early conditioning before returning to the care of trainer Jeff Bonde in California next year.
"She's outstanding," Bonde said of the sale topper.
Storm Aftermath is the fifth foal out of Stormy Regina, who also produced the stakes-placed Storm Witch and two additional winners. Other notable members of the sale topper's female family include multiple grade 1 winner It's the One, and multiple stakes winners Great Gladiator and Sidersell.
"We knew she'd bring a good price," said Walter Solis, Golden Eagle's director of horse operations. "She has the bloodlines to be a very nice horse and was looked at by all the right people. She's a nice overall filly, x-rayed well, and scoped clean, so we're not surprised (at her purchase price.)"
In all, 236 yearlings sold for gross receipts of $3,214,000, a 15.5% jump over last year's total of $2,721,900 when 215 yearlings went to new owners. The 2003 average price of $13,619 grew 7% from last year's figure of $12,600 while the median of $9,500 grew 15.8% from $8,000 a year ago. Seventy one horses failed to meet their reserve on Tuesday, up from 66 a year ago, and 39 were withdrawn.
The second-highest price of the sale was also a filly, a bay Kentucky-bred daughter of In Excess that was purchased for $105,000 by John J. Campo III. Consigned by Mary Knight, agent for Cindy Olsen, the filly is a daughter of the multiple stakes-winning Never Tabled mare Above the Table.
Trainer Bob Baffert, acting as agent, signed the sales slip on the highest-priced colt of the sale. The hammer fell at $77,000 for the chestnut California-bred son of Distinctive Cat and the Affirmed mare Art Smart, who was consigned by Applebite Farms, agent.
"It was a pretty solid sale," said Barretts president and general manager Jerry McMahon. "This sale is all about trying to improve each year; it's a function of the California breeding program. It's mostly about trying to prove that the more good yearlings bred in the state, the better the market will be.
"I'll be the first to say that a lot of breeders are losing money in a market like this, but that's a direct reflection of the perception the buyers have of the quality. In this business, buyers demand a certain quality of horses and in some cases, this sale is an escape hatch for breeders. They're not expecting to make money, but we have seen the sale develop, and I am pleased to see it keep making progress because that's what it's all about. This sale has shown that we are collectively making something much better."
De Berdt was the leading buyer of the sale, picking up five horses for a total of $258,000 and an average price of $51,600. Golden Eagle Farm was the top consignor, selling 16 for $365,000 and an average price of $22,813.