The market for 2-year-olds in training continued to build on this year's gains when the action moved to Barretts in Southern California Tuesday. A daughter of Awesome Again
brought $2 million, breaking the world record for a juvenile filly sold at public auction. The milestone was reached one week after a Fusaichi Pegasus -- Hidden Storm colt became the most expensive 2-year-old ever, selling for $4.5 million in Florida.
Sheikh Mohammed's bloodstock manager John Ferguson outlasted Irish agent Demi O'Byrne and O'Byrne's client Michael Tabor in the bidding battle. Also in the hunt was wine company executive Jess Jackson.
The bay filly is a half-sister to Madcap Escapade (by Hennessy), who rolled to an 11 ¾-length victory in the Feb. 14 Old Hat Stakes at Gulfstream Park Their dam, Sassy Pants (by Saratoga Six
) is a multiple stakes winner.
"She's a lovely filly with scope," said Ferguson, "and we're all very well aware of Madcap Escapade, who was obviously phenomenally impressive the other day in Florida."
Ferguson also said his purchase had "great action and obviously went well on the racetrack."
The filly worked an eighth of a mile in :10.2 during the Barretts sale's first under tack show on Feb. 24. The show had been postponed a day because of wet weather, and the track was drying out, with a surface that some consignors described as "sticky."
The Jerry Bailey Sales Agency of Florida consigned the world record filly as agent. She was owned by Bailey, Ken Ellenberg, Lance Robinson, and Jeff Colette. They purchased her for $75,000 in the name of Gulf Coast Farms at the 2003 Keeneland September yearling sale.
The previous world record for a 2-year-old filly was $1.9 million, the price for the Stormy Atlantic
filly Atlantic Ocean at the 2002 Barretts March sale. A multiple graded winner, Atlantic Ocean was part of The Thoroughbred Corp. dispersal that was held in conjunction with this year's Barretts March auction. She sold for $700,000.
The world record wasn't the only good news for the Barretts March sale. The gross revenue and average price rose 12.3% and 22.2%, respectively, from last year while the median soared 66.7%. The buy-back rate fell from a sale record high of 48.5% in 2003 to 38.3% this year. The final figures were 79 horses sold, a gross of $13,728,000, an average of $173,772, and a median of $100,000.
"The whole thing is a struggle, and it's a lot of work to get to this point," said Jerry McMahon, Barretts' president and general manager. "You just hope that there are enough good horses for the buyers that we have. There's no question that we could use more depth among our consignors, but overall there sure were a lot of well-sold horses today, and we had a high number of really top quality buyers.
"The median was up significantly because we limited our numbers this year. The extra 30 horses or so that could have been in here we didn't accept because they don't fit in this market."
A Pine Bluff
filly and a Swiss Yodeler colt named Swissle Stick each brought $600,000, the second-highest price of the auction. The filly, a $17,000 buy-back at last year's Keeneland September yearling sale, went to O'Byrne, acting on the behalf of Tabor and Derrick Smith. Consigned by the Jerry Bailey Sales Agency, she is out of the 11-year-old winning Deputy Minister
mare Malley. The filly's second dam is grade I winner Dreamy Mimi (by Naskra).
Robert and Beverly Lewis purchased Swissle Stick from Ciaran Dunne's Wavertree Stables, agent for Ron and Susanne Fein of Florida. The colt is out of the unraced Siyah Kalem mare Miss Soft Sell and is a half-brother to added-money winner Don'tsellmeshort. Florida pinhooker Terry Oliver bought Swissle Stick, as agent, for $70,000 when the colt was a weanling at the 2002 Keeneland November breeding stock sale.