Adrian Gonzalez's Checkmate Thoroughbreds sold three of the four highest-priced horses at the Barretts mixed sale Jan. 17 in Pomona, Calif. All were 2-year-olds and went to three different buyers.
Checkmate, the sale's leading consignor, topped the sale with a 2-year-old son of Quality Road who brought $120,000. Trainer O.J. Jauregui purchased the colt for Lindsay LaRoche's Highland Yard.
The Barretts sale also included several stallion seasons and art items that were donated to raise funds for victims of the San Luis Rey Downs fire. Kim Lloyd, Barretts' general manager, said that the items raised more than $25,000. In addition, Barretts announced that it will donate 10% of its commissions from the horses sold at the sale to the California Thoroughbred Horsemen's Foundation for fire relief.
A total of 111 horses grossed $1,180,600 for an average of $10,636, compared to 2017, when 125 horses grossed $995,800 and averaged $7,966, an increase of 34% in average. The 2-year-olds brought the highest average of $13,241 for 37 sold. A total of 50 of the 161 horses through the ring did not sell, for a buy-back rate of 31%.
"Horses of racing age and horses of promise sold well," said Lloyd. "The market for horses that can go from the sales ground right to the racetrack to start training have been very well received and are very marketable. There are a lot of buyers for those horses."
Barretts is combining its March and May 2-year-old sales this year into one and has scheduled it for April 4 at Del Mar. Gonzalez has often sold at both the March and May sales, and he noted that many of the same buyers who attend those sales were at the January sale.
During Wednesday's sale, agent Dennis O'Neill bought Headed West, the 2-year-old son of Overanalyze, for $55,000 from Checkmate for Beau Sully. Agent David Meah purchased a 2-year-old daughter of Animal Kingdom from Checkmate for $54,000.
"Overall, the sale was pretty consistent," said Gonzalez. "My yearlings had a really good clearance rate, and they were probably double or triple where we had our reserves. We were pleasantly surprised.
"With the 2-year-olds, we had really strong pedigrees for this sale. I think if you bring a good horse to any sale, the buyers will find them. I thought Barretts did a good job bringing those type of people here to buy those horses."
The sale topper is a Kentucky-bred colt out of the unraced Arch mare Queenofperfection, and the second dam, Gone Purrfect, is a full sister to champion and sire Speightstown .
"The colt had good size and pretty good breeding," said Jauregui of the sale topper.
Jauregui said that he has four in training for Highland Yard, and horses he has trained for LaRoche include Amaranth, a stakes winner and graded stakes-placed earner of $283,776. Highland Yard has also campaigned the likes of Walk Close, a graded stakes winner trained by Christophe Clement on the East Coast.
O'Neill said that one of the things he liked about Headed West is that the colt is a California-bred son of Overanalyze. Headed West is out of the Gone West mare West Court, a half sister to grade 1 winner Dancing Rags and grade 2 winner Coup de Grace.
Checkmate's Kentucky-bred Animal Kingdom filly is out of the Tapit mare Tippy Tapit. The mare is a half sister to 2004 Cigar Mile Handicap (G1) winner Lion Tamer. Meah said that he bought the filly for George Yager, a principal in BG Thoroughbreds, which was coming off a three-win day at Santa Anita Park Jan. 15.
"She's small and compact, and I believe in Animal Kingdom," said Meah. "I'm not sure how early he's going to be, but come November and December I think he's going to have a lot of winners and go into having an exciting 3-year-old season for a lot of these horses."
Meah, an assistant to trainer Richard Baltas, also bought a season to Danzing Candy , not only to help the fire victims, but also because he said he has a few mares that he is breeding.
California breeder Terry Lovingier consigned the second-highest-priced horse, a California-bred 2-year-old filly who brought $80,000. She is by Empire Way, who stands at Lovingier's Lovacres Ranch near Warner Springs, Calif., and is out of the stakes-winning Smoke Glacken mare One Smokin' Lady, already the dam of stakes-placed Smokem.
Eugene Zondlo, Hector Perez, and Tom London bought the filly with the help of agent Amanda Navarro. Zondlo and London own stakes winner Show It N Moe It with Lovingier.