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After Stock Market Plunges, Business Declines At Barretts March Sale

One day after the stock market plunged dramatically, business at the Barretts March select sale of 2-year-olds in training suffered significant setbacks. Gross revenue dropped by 33.8%, and the average and median prices fell by 27.2% and 44.0%, respectively. The buy-back rate was 45.4%, reaching the second-highest level in the auction's history.

"This is the reality of holding a 2-year-old in training sale in the middle of a financial crisis in terms of what's going on in the stock market," said Gerald F. McMahon, Barretts' president and general manager. "I felt like that it had an effect on the American buyers. And with their market doing what it's doing, I think the Japanese might have been affected as well."

The 71 horses sold Tuesday represented the lowest total in the auction's history. They grossed $10,085,000 and averaged $142,042. The median was $70,000. Last year, 78 horses were sold for a gross of $15,227,000, an average of $195,218, and a median of $125,000. In addition, during a special session for California-bred juveniles that was not renewed this year, 18 horses were sold for a gross of $2,060,000 and average of $114,444.

This year was the first time since 1996 that the sale did not produce a seven-figure horse. The prices peaked at $750,000, with two juveniles--colts by Cherokee Run and Saint Ballado each bringing that amount. Produced from the stakes-winning Bolger mare Choobloo, the Cherokee Run colt was purchased by trainer Elliott Walden, who bid by telephone.

"Elliott loves this colt; he's watched him train all winter at Payson Park," said the colt's consignor, Kentucky horseman Maurice Miller. Miller bought the colt for $360,000 at the 2000 Saratoga yearling sale. The Kentucky horseman resold the son of Cherokee Run at Barretts for a partnership that includes himself, his father-in-law Bill Graham, and Tom VanMeter of Eaton Sales. The colt turned in the fastest quarter-mile work during the first under tack show on March 5, covering the distance in :21.9.

Named Fancy Frolic, the $750,000 Saint Ballado colt was produced from the Green Dancer mare Fanny's Frolic. She is a full sister to grade III winner Fabulous Frolic and a half-sister to grade III winner Lindsay Frolic. Fancy Frolic was consigned by the Jerry Bailey Sales Agency, agent. The colt was purchased for $475,000 last year by Kentucky bloodstock agent John Moynihan and was owned by a partnership whose members he declined to disclose

The colt was bought at Barretts by The Thoroughbred Corp., which is headed by Prince Ahmed Salman of Saudi Arabia. The Thoroughbred Corp. was the auction's leading buyer, spending $2,675,000 for five horses. All will be trained by Bob Baffert.

"He moves beautifully, said Baffert of Fancy Frolic. "He reminds me of Flame Thrower (a successful son of Saint Ballado that is trained by Baffert)."

Analyzing the Barretts market further, McMahon said: "The top three or four horses might have brought more than a million dollars (apiece) last year. That's the way it felt. There just wasn't anybody pushing at the top this year."

Consignors said fewer buyers than usual inspected their horses. Attendance at the second and final under tack show on March 11 was sparse.

And, during the auction, there were plenty of empty seats in the sale pavilion. Also causing concern to Barretts officials were continuing declines in the catalogue size and the number sold.

"We have a big supply problem, no question," McMahon said. "That's a California dilemma. The market in March is shrinking, and we are going to have to evaluate it."

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