The Barretts October mixed sale ended its two-day run Tuesday in Southern California with a 10% decline in gross revenue even though the number of horses sold increased significantly. The average price and median price dropped 25.8% and 8.6%, respectively.
Barretts president Jerry McMahon blamed the setbacks primarily on a reduction in the quality of stock from last year, when there were a variety of dispersals and reductions involving well-known California operations.
"This year, it was just the bread-and-butter California horses," McMahon said. "The sale primarily was made up of breeders who were cleaning house in terms of broodmares and selling weanlings and yearlings that weren't targeted for select sales. Given the change in this sale's makeup from last year, I thought it performed pretty well."
According to McMahon, the auction might have performed better had there been no brush fires in Southern California. The blazes caused transportation problems both in the air and on the highways, making it difficult for some buyers to get to Barretts.
"Had those fires not occurred and everybody had free access here, we might have really had a strong sale," McMahon said. "It seems as if every Southern California horse community was affected. A lot of people were staying with their horses on their property (instead of attending the sale)."
The catalogue of 782 horses for the auction was the largest ever for any Barretts sale. Barretts reported that 513 horses were sold for a gross of $2,860,400, an average of $5,576, and a median of $3,200. The number sold was up 21.3% from a year ago. The buy-back rate rose from 21.5% last year to 23.4% this year.
The figures for the final session were 249 horses sold for a gross of $1,329,500, an average of $5,339, and a median of $3,500. The highest individual price of $55,000 Tuesday was brought by the 7-year-old winning Slew o' Gold mare Got the Votes. Produced from the winning Flag Officer mare Katambera, Got the Votes is a half-sister to California champion and grade III winner Work the Crowd (by Politcal Ambition). Blooming Hills purchased Got the Votes, who was sold in foal to Cee's Tizzy, from Harris Farms, agent.
Monday's session topper, the $72,000 Quiet American mare Nanogram, was offered for sale again Tuesday after the buyer, Sheila O'Callaghan, told Barretts she could not pay for her purchase. Nanogram ended up being bought back when she was reoffered.
Nanogram is owned by a partnership that included the late breeding expert Leon Rasmussen. O'Callaghan said she was a friend of Rasmussen's and had followed Nanogram's career closely, attending her races and celebrating with the owners in the winner's circle.
"I had some partners who said they would help, but they backed out on me," the teary-eyed O'Callaghan said.
According to McMahon, Nanogram's owners agreed to rescind the sale, releasing O'Callaghan from any financial liability.
In another notable development at the October mixed sale, Barretts became the first major Thoroughbred auction company in North America to offer online interactive bidding for one of its auctions. Live Global Bid, a Canadian company, provided the technology for the venture, which McMahon considered to be a success.
"We had active bidding continuously on the Internet all the way through the sale," he said, "and according to (Barretts vice president) Bill Baker, there were about 10 different people who bought horses. We had anecdotal evidence that a few people said, 'I can't get to the sale because of the fires; can I get online?' And they did bid."