The strong demand for quality yearlings seen in Kentucky and New York carried across the country this week to Del Mar where the annual yearling sale set a record for average price.
A total of 104 horses sold for an average of $43,663 during the two-day sale run annually by the California Thoroughbred Breeders' Association. The average price rose 18.7% over the previous record of $36,798 set in 1999.
Compared with last year's sale, the statistics were even more striking. Twenty percent fewer horses sold on Monday and Tuesday evening at the Del Mar HorsePark, but gross revenues increased 10% to $4,541,000 and the average price rose 37% over 2000's average of $31,915. The percentage of yearlings that failed to find new homes fell to 24% from 31% a year ago.
"It is very gratifying to see the demand for Cal-breds," said Doug Burge, CTBA general manager. "Overall, we're on Cloud 9."
An increase in the number of horses selling for $100,000 or more was largely responsible for the increase in average price. Consignors sold nine horse in this price range compared with last year when only five sold for so much.
Fillies dominated the six-figure price category. A $200,000 daughter of Bertrando out of Rio Tejo (by Tsunami Slew) consigned by Kathy Berkey and sold on Monday topped the sale. She sold to Northern California trainer Jeff Bonde who said she was without question the best horse in the sale.
The second highest priced horse also was a filly. A full sister to top California sprinter Go Go sold on Monday for $165,000 to Stanley Fulton, former chairman of Anchor Gaming and now owner of Sunland Park in New Mexico. The filly by Falstaff out of Key Mist (by Plugged Nickel) was sold by Nancy Yearsley for owners/breeders Brad Goessler and Chris Ray.
The sale's top selling colt was a son of Bertrando out of Minister Wife (by Deputy Minister) who sold for $155,000 to residential housing developer John Deeter. The colt was sold by Tommy Town Thoroughbreds on Monday.
Sales were substantially weaker for the sale's second session, which attracted a smaller crowd. Only two horses sold for $100,000. The average price for Tuesday's session was $35,418 and the median price was $26,000. For Monday's session, the average price was $52,918 and the median price was $39,000.
Some consignors said the stark difference between the attendance and prices at the two sessions may be a sign that the sale should be held on one day.
"I heard those same comments," Burge said. "That is something we'll discuss at the CTBA board meeting tomorrow (Aug. 15). I can see the value in holding a one-day sale, at the same time I'm sure -- after just setting a record in the sale's 50-year history--there will be a sense of it's not broke, so don't fix it."