Auction company aiming for Del Mar

DEL MAR — Barretts Equine Limited, a thoroughbred sales company currently based in Pomona, is in negotiations to relocate its operations to the Del Mar Fairgrounds, a move that could result in more than $1 million in annual sales tax revenue for the city of Del Mar.

A representative from Barretts was out of town at press time and unable to comment on the move.

Fairgrounds General Manager Tim Fennell confirmed the two sides are close to finalizing the details.

He said Barretts would like to hold about five or six sales annually. But in 2015 the fairgrounds will only be able to accommodate one or two because of the current schedule of other events and a planned replacement of the dirt track slated to start next month.

He said some of the sales will require the use of the track.

Barretts was founded in 1989 by Fred N. Sahadi, Jerry McMahon and the late Fairplex CEO Ralph M. Hinds to provide the breeding and racing industry in California with a permanent, full-service sales facility.

Located on the grounds of the Fairplex the company is now owned and operated by the Los Angeles County Fair Association.

Five auctions are now held annually. They include sales of 2-year-olds in training, horses of racing age, yearlings and breeding stock. The highest-priced California-bred sale was Unbridled Slew, which sold for $2.5 million in 2006.

Barretts’ auctions have produced more than 150 graded stakes winners worldwide, including Eclipse and Breeders’ Cup champions.

Conducting business in Del Mar won’t be new for the company.

Barretts has held auctions at the seaside track annually since 2012.

Gross sales were $933,000 the first year, $1,257,000 in 2013 and $2,147,000 this past July. According to the website total gross sales for 2014 were more than $21.5 million.

In addition to the city benefitting from sales tax, the fairgrounds will receive a percentage of the sales based on a sliding scale.

“It’s not going to be a huge amount,” Fennell said. “We’re not going to be able to retire on it.”

But for Fennell, it’s not about the money.

“It helps the sport stay healthy and helps the horses stay on the West Coast,” he said. “We’re trying to do our part to keep thoroughbred racing as healthy as we can for as long as we can in Southern California.”

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