A day after the stock market dropped more than 700 points, California held its major yearling sale of 2008, making a tough market even more difficult. Prices were not expected to hold from 2007, and they didn’t, with 149 yearlings averaging $16,689, down 16.3% from a year ago.
Given that other yearling markets around the country have also suffered declines, sale officials felt the auction did as well as could be expected.
"The market held up reasonably well in light of what we were up against," said Jerry McMahon, president and general manager of Barretts, which co-sponsored the Sept. 30 sale at the Hinds Pavilion at Fairplex Park in Pomona, Calif., with the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association.
"We reduced the size of the catalog by 80 horses, yet we only sold 20 fewer," McMahon said. "The buy-back rate declined by quite a bit."
Added Doug Burge, executive vice president and general manager of the CTBA, "From top to bottom, most of the comments we got were positive."
During the sale, 149 head were sold for $2,486,600, an average of $16,689 and a median of $9,000. Therre were 59 yearlings, 28.4% that were unsold.
The gross dropped 26.2% from a year ago, when 169 lots were auctioned for $3,369,600. Last year's average was $19,938 and the median was 18.2% higher at $11,000. The RNA rate in 2007 was 40.1% when 113 failed to find new homes.
A California-bred daughter of Speightstown —All the Moves, by A.P. Indy, topped the sale at $135,000, the only six-figure horse of the day. Patrick Sheehy’s Super Horse bought the filly from Tom Bachman’s Pegasus Ranch.
"She was the nicest filly in the sale," said Sheehy, who lives in Newport Beach, Calif. "The sire is new but doing OK, and I liked that she’s out of an A.P. Indy mare."
The filly will go to Arizona to be broken, and Sheehy was undecided as to whether she would race in California or Europe.
Bachman raised the filly at Pegasus in Petaluma, Calif. He bought All the Moves in foal privately from Becky Thomas.
"I took a chance because she was in foal on a June breeding off a barren year," said Bachman. "But that’s how I can afford these types of mares. She’s in foal to Hard Spun, and she’s scheduled to sell at Keeneland in November."
Bachman said he could have taken the filly to Kentucky to sell her. "But I wanted to sell in California. Being a big fish in a small pond—that’s what I believe in."
Andy Havens’ Havens Bloodstock Agency was the sale’s leading consignor, selling 19 yearlings for $368,000 and an average of $19,368. His consignment included the sale’s top colt, a Cal-bred son of Tribal Rule—Never to Excess, by In Excess, who brought $90,000, as well as a $65,000 Cal-bred daughter of Suances—Kissing Girl, by Lode.
"It was a tough sale in a tough market," Havens said. "But I’ve sold most of my horses. We had to adjust our sights pretty well, and we had brutally realistic reserves. If you want to sell them, you have to price them so that people will buy them."
Southern California-based trainer Mike Harrington was the leading buyer, purchasing five for a gross of $139,500 and an average of $27,900.