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In The Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare wrote “All that glisters is not gold.” The less common word is a 17th century synonym of “glitters,” but the latter is much more likely to be heard in this familiar quotation.

And the point of “glittering” is that many a mare or yearling yesterday and today was led out of Keeneland’s sale ring wearing a bright and shiny halter that is officially worth more than the horse itself. Because far too many failed to bring a bid.

That is not the fault of Keeneland, which managed to bring in a sizable group of regional and overseas consumers to mop up the excess bloodstock and racing prospects in the Kentucky marketplace.

But the marketplace is weak, too weak to sustain the volume of horses available. Furthermore, the prices horses made do not reflect their quality in many cases. In one extreme, the broodmare Livia B, a 15-year-old bay daughter of Jolie’s Halo out of Peruvian champion La Chaposa, brought $1,000 on a single bid from Brandywine Farm.

The next hip through the sales ring was the mare’s yearling filly by Roman Ruler. The marketplace woke up to the economic potential of a young athlete and paid $42,000 for the good-looking youngster. Fortunately for the consignor, some of the glittering is gold.

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