A son of first-crop sire The Factor who previewed with a furlong work in :09 4/5, brought $460,000 to top the Barretts select 2-year-old sale at Del Mar March 30. A daughter of Smart Strike was the highest-priced filly at $450,000.
The sale topper is headed to Japan, while the Smart Strike filly will remain in California. Dr. Riki Takahashi, who has been successful buying future stakes winners out of the Barretts March sale, purchased the colt by The Factor, while trainer Bob Baffert bought the Smart Strike filly.
The sale averaged $124,558 for 43 sold, down 8.8% over 2015, when 45 averaged $136,622. This year Barretts held the sale at Del Mar in late March, whereas the corresponding sale last year was held at Fairplex in Pomona in late February.
With 62 withdrawals, the sale grossed $5,356,000 in 2016, compared to $6,148,000 in 2015.
"We were a little stronger on the top this year, and the higher-end horses did well," said Kim Lloyd, general manager of Barretts. "Last year our two highest prices were $400,000 and $350,000."
Twenty-one of the 64 horses through the ring did not sell, for a buyback rate of 32.8%, just more than the 30.8% rate in 2015.
"We were glad to see that the sale held its own on the average," Lloyd said. "The median was the same ($100,000 in 2015 and 2016). Consignors were a little nervous coming out, and they had a right to be with a new place and a new timeslot. The track played very fair and very safe, and our consignors were very pleased."
Ciaran Dunne's Wavertree Stables sold the sale topper, who is out of the winning Songandaprayer mare Broadway Lullaby, from the family of Fantasy Stakes (gr. II) winner Eight Belles. Bred in Kentucky by Marablue Farm, the colt had been initially sold to JSM Equine for $85,000 as a weanling consigned by St. George Sales to the 2014 Keeneland November breeding stock sale. Pinhooked into the 2015 Keeneland September yearling sale by Lane's End, agent for JSM Equine, the colt was purchased by Kate Sheehan for $35,000.
"I liked The Factor, and I liked the way the colt breezed," Takahashi said.
Emmanuel DeSeroux of Narvick International accompanied Takahashi to the sale, and the sale topper was purchased in Narvick's name.
"He was a lovely horse, one that we've been proud of all winter," Dunne said. "We figured that this was a good place to showcase him. We're very pleased that he went to Narvick. We've had a lot of luck selling to them, and they've been a good client of ours."
The likely presence of several Japanese bidding groups attracted Florida consignors to the sale.
"There were multiple bidders on all of our horses," Dunne said. "I wasn't a believer before I came out—we were very close to not putting them on the plane. But Barretts assured us they would have the buyers here, and in fairness to them, they did that."
Dunne and Becky Thomas' Sequel Bloodstock are Florida consignors who have long sold at the Barretts select sale. Thomas consigned the $450,000 filly, who is out of the Yes It's True mare Cautionary Tale, from the family of champion My Miss Aurelia. The filly breezed a furlong in :10 flat at the under-tack preview.
"Smart Strike fillies are hard to get, and she's fast," Baffert said. "We have a good history of buying horses from Becky Thomas."
Baffert noted that he trained stakes winner My Miss Storm Cat, a half sister to Cautionary Tale and the dam of My Miss Aurelia.
"I couldn't be happier that Bob is going to train the filly," Thomas said. "She was a class act."
The filly was bred in Kentucky by Martha Jane Mulholland, Roger and Mary A. Pardieck, Jayde Inc., and Sam-Son Farms. She was bought by Thomas for $100,000 from the Mulholland Springs consignment at last year's Keeneland September sale.
Thomas noted that buyers focused on the top of the market at the sale, like many of the juvenile sales this year in Florida.
"This is an important sale to have on the West Coast," Thomas said. "To see this become a destination sale was great, and I think Barretts will grow off of this."