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One conclusion that can be drawn from the November sale concluded today at Keeneland is that the recession is over.

That is not to say that happy days are here again or that the bull market is clattering down the cobblestones at Pamplona.

Far from it, but the free fall that many feared after the dismal results in September certainly was not borne out. The sale was down moderately, the tone was generally mixed for good and ill, and the trend of the market is still somewhat toward the buyer.

But as one out-of-state buyer expressed his feelings, “when a horse walks into the ring at Keeneland, it’s automatically worth twice as much as it would be at home.” And buyers trying to take a step upward in the quality of their stock during an overall down market found the experience highly competitive.

One of the primary reasons for the intense bidding was the volume of buyers, which was significantly fueled by the fervent participation of export buyers. Breeding and racing stock from this sale will be traveling round the world in the coming weeks.

Whether export or domestic, however, there were buyers for nearly every horse. Even some of the “no bid” animals found homes before leaving the grounds, and that’s what going to a sale is all about.

And most importantly, when a really nice animal walked into the ring, there was an astonishing amount of money there for it. Even in the waning days of the November sale, as the expectations for profit-making sales became virtually nil and median sales prices fell well below $10,000, when the nicer horses came up for auction, bidders stepped forward with very fair prices for them.

At every level of the horse market, there was some strength in the buyers’ willingness to spend money on horses that represent a significant investment of time and money.

And if that’s not a vote of confidence on the economy and the prospects for breeding and racing, I’ll roast a possum for the next pot of burgoo.

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