CTBA Del Mar Yearling Sale Seeks Rebound

Hoping to rebound from disappointing numbers a year ago, the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association will unveil its 2004 yearling sale at Del Mar Racetrack Monday, August 16 at 7 p.m. There will be several new wrinkles to the auction this time around.

For openers, the venue has been changed from the Del Mar HorsePark to the scenic paddock of the racetrack itself. Also, the sale has been condensed from a two-day format into one session, with less horses catalogued. It is hoped the event, which takes place the night before a dark day at the track, will attract more trainers due to convenience.

After cataloguing 159 yearlings a year ago, 122 are slated to pass through the ring this time around. Included are California-bred offspring of nationally powerful stallions such as Elusive Quality, sire of Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Smarty Jones; Cozzene, and Distorted Humor . Top California stallions such as Bertrando, Cee's Tizzy, General Meeting, In Excess, and Smokester are well represented. Also, the late Free House is represented by one filly and one colt.

"We've been able to focus more on quality," noted CTBA general manager Doug Burge. "I'm proud that all but five horses in the sale are Cal-bred, which is what the bulk of the buyers are looking for. That's great for the program and good for the industry here."

In fairness, last year's sale had to try and live up to the 2002 edition, which saw the highest average and median in the history of the auction. Also, owners were going through a rough time with astronomic workers comp rates to deal with. In the past year, those costs have been brought down, and a performance fee has been added for owners of horses who start in California.