A flashy gray colt by The Pamplemousse impressed trainers and pinhookers at the Barretts Sales & Racing October yearling sale, with Bob Baffert going to $160,000 to buy the top-priced offering at the Oct. 8 sale.
It was a bright spot in a sale that fell back to earth after three consecutive years of double-digit increases in average. The sale averaged $19,689, a decrease of 17% from 2012's average of $23,026. Two years ago, the sale averaged $16,881.
A total of 159 horses sold for $3,130,500, with the median of $13,000 declining from 2012's figure of $18,000. The buyback rate of 26.4% (57 of the 216 put through the ring did not sell) spiked from the 19.1% RNA rate in 2012.
"Obviously, the market is looking for a little more sire power than we had in the catalog," said Kim Lloyd, Barretts' general manager. "But then again, it was exciting to have a young horse that's hopeful, like The Pamplemousse. When we saw those babies on the farm, we were impressed. And they came through very well today."
The Pamplemousse was one of 12 stallions with yearlings from their first crops in the catalog. Six of the seven horses by the stallion sold, for an average of $62,166. He stood the 2011 season, when yearlings of 2013 were conceived, at Rancho San Miguel in San Miguel, Calif. for $3,500. His 2014 fee has been set at $2,500, the same as 2013.
Baffert bought the sale topper, Hip 125, for Arnold Zetcher, the same combination that topped the sale last year at $150,000 for a son of Bertrando.
"He is a really pretty horse with a great family," said Baffert. "And The Pamplemousse was a good racehorse. Plus he's a California-bred, and we were looking for a Cal-bred."
Baffert said he also remembered the mare, Tizakitty, as a good racehorse. The daughter of Distinctive Cat won the 2005 Kalookan Queen Handicap at Santa Anita Park while trained by Bob Hess Jr. She is also a half sister to the Baffert-trained Paynter , who won the 2012 Haskell Invitational Stakes (gr. I), famously returned from a life-threatening illness, and most recently finished second in the Awesome Again Stakes (gr. I) to Mucho Macho Man .
Adrian Gonzalez's Checkmate Thoroughbreds consigned the sale topper as agent.
"He's a lovely colt. They don't make them like that," Gonzalez said. "He didn't stop showing non-stop for four days. He's so well-minded. He was like a machine. When I first saw him as a baby on the farm, I thought he could bring that kind of money. And with a freshman sire, you don't expect that. But I think the buyers saw that."
The Pamplemousse won the 2009 Sham Stakes (gr. III) and San Rafael Stakes (gr. III), suffering an injury before that year's Triple Crown events.
Ciaran Dunne, whose consignments do very well at the Barretts 2-year-old sales, was an underbidder on the sale topper and one of several pinhookers buying at the sale.
Eddie Woods successfully bid $95,000 in the name of Quarter Pole Enterprises LLC for Hip 95, a son of Artie Schiller named Avenue of Art.
"He is a good, solid horse by a horse who is really coming on," said Woods, who also brings major consignments to the Barretts 2-year-old sales. "I hope to bring him back here in the spring."
Sam Hendricks sold the youngster as agent for the Walking G Ranch, and he was the second-highest price of the sale. His dam, the Avenue of Flags mare Sookloozy, was unraced, but she is out of stakes-winning Regal Air and a half sister to four stakes-placed runners.
One of the most popular sales of the day was Hip 54, a daughter of Unusual Heat—Practicaly Perfect, by Pleasantly Perfect, who brought $57,000. The entire amount of the sale price was donated to the California Retirement Management Account (CARMA), which benefits retired racehorses.
Jan and Jerry Hawthorne, who own the mare and raised the filly along with Madeline Auerbach, principal owner of Unusual Heat, offered her without reserve. Sales agent Harris Farms and Barretts waived their commissions on the sale as well.
With the announcement from the stand that all of the proceeds would go to CARMA, the audience applauded. They also applauded when agent Tim McMurray, in the name of Fleetwood Bloodstock, successfully purchased her.
"Jan and I were trying to think about how to do something outside of the box to raise some money," said Auerbach. "Jan had the mare, and I said, 'Why don't we foal share and give it to CARMA?' Jan did a beautiful job raising the baby. And Barretts and Harris gave up some pretty significant commissions to make this happen."
The Hawthornes, who liked the filly so much that they were the underbidders on her, have another in the pipeline because Practicaly Perfect is back in foal to Unusual Heat.