Fasig-Tipton will unveil a new stand-alone digital platform–Fasig-Tipton Digital–with the March Digital Selected Sale to be held Mar. 17-22.
The catalogue for the inaugural online sale will be available at digital.fasigtipton.com beginning Thursday, Mar. 17, at which time bidding will open for a window through Tuesday, Mar. 22. Consignors will have the ability to promote their horses via a variety of tools that will provide prospective buyers with the resources and information they need to make informed purchasing decisions.
“We are excited to officially launch Fasig-Tipton Digital, which will serve as a complement to our traditional live auction calendar,” said Fasig-Tipton President Boyd Browning. “The Thoroughbred business is increasingly focused on creating liquidity by selling horses at opportune times, and this platform allows us to serve the marketplace by facilitating those transactions. Our approach will be the same as it is for a live auction–establish a quality marketplace for buyers and sellers, supported by the outstanding customer service that our clients have come to expect from Fasig-Tipton.”
Nominations to the sale are open and sellers are encouraged to nominate by Mar. 8, although selected supplemental entries will be accepted after that date. The company is seeking quality horses of racing age, broodmares, racing/broodmare prospects, and broodmare prospects.
“As we launch Fasig-Tipton Digital, our initial approach will be to focus entirely on quality over quantity,” said Leif Aaron, Fasig-Tipton Director of Digital Sales. “This platform and its inaugural March sale should be especially attractive to sellers that want to take advantage of a significant update in a race record or pedigree, or the recent success of a mare's covering sire.”
Interested parties are encouraged to contact Aaron at [email protected] or by calling the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky offices at (859) 255-1555.
Below is a Q&A with Aaron, who was named Fasig's Director of Digital Sales Jan. 24:
TDN: Before COVID, and even right at the beginning of COVID, there seemed to be a hesitancy toward embracing digital sales. What we have learned since then?
LA: For me it was when I found out that digital sales did $100 million last year in Australia while still conducting in-person auctions. Granted, they don't have a claiming system, but even outside of racehorses they do have a vibrant online marketplace with willing buyers and sellers. Fasig-Tipton has seen the ever-increasing growth in online bidding at its live auctions, as well. Buyers have become very comfortable with buying horses off of photos and videos, and then bidding online to purchase them. COVID forced buyers to adapt, and in turn, they have become comfortable with buying horses online when unable to attend a sale in person.
TDN: What hurdles did customers have to overcome in order to embrace the concept of buying horses online, and how do you help them with that, in terms of the types of features you will offer here?
LA: Resources for buyers are critical. With our platform, buyers are going to have all the information that they would have at an in-person sale. The site will feature photos, videos, repository, health information, pedigrees, race replays, various past performances and speed figures, and buyers can schedule a physical inspection, as well. The biggest hurdle for buyers so far has been the lack of quality offered online. If someone wants to buy a new luxury car, they are not going to shop at a BUY HERE- PAY HERE lot. Our goal is to grow and establish this market to a place where people feel comfortable on the platform and natural growth can occur.
TDN: What is different about Fasig-Tipton's approach to digital sales?
LA: In the last several years, I've seen interview after interview during in-person sales in America that repeat the same thing–quality is king. We are going to focus on quality over quantity early on. We will take a long-term approach, starting small with a quality group of horses that will have significant appeal to racehorse owners and breeders, and sell these horses successfully. We will continue to do this in our first digital auctions to really generate confidence in the marketplace and the platform, demonstrating that quality horses can be sold this way. We want to get people in the habit of checking our site to see what's available. We want to ingrain in sellers' minds that there is always going to be a viable market place at their disposal. I've heard a lot of the hardboots through the years say, “You couldn't hide a good horse on your back forty.” I think they are right, it's our job now to make sure that both buyers and sellers have confidence in the digital platform to get this off the ground successfully.
We envision Fasig Digital being a place where buyers will be excited to see what is going up for auction. Initially, we are not going to commit to having a sale every single month, but when the right opportunity presents itself, we will conduct a digital auction. For example, if a 3-year-old colt becomes a 'TDN Rising Star' and its owner wants to list him on Fasig Digital, we are going to do it and have a one-horse auction. If someone has a horse pointing toward a major Grade I race and wants to sell an ownership interest in the horse, we will offer that share or percentage in the horse. We are here to try and facilitate new and exciting ways of conducting horse sales. This is the place to come for people with ideas. But again, the theme will be quality, quality, and quality.
TDN: There are companies who just do digital sales, and others, like Fasig, that do both. Is that an advantage in helping you to know what your customers need?
LA: Absolutely, I think understanding the market, the players, and what types of offerings are commercially appealing are vital to the success of a digital platform. Fasig-Tipton has a sharp, experienced team that buyers and sellers are both comfortable with and highly confident in. Customer service has always been a core principle of Fasig-Tipton, and that same service will be put to work in the digital realm. Fasig-Tipton has also successfully launched several new live auctions in the last decade–the July Selected Horses of Race Age Sale, for example. It has become a fixture on the calendar and certainly has a role in the overall popularity of racehorse sales these days. The company has also successfully taken sales that were previously less popular with sellers for their quality offerings, and transformed them into very popular auctions for these types. Take a look at last month's Kentucky Winter Mixed Sale for example–people now feel comfortable selling a $750,000 horse there, whereas 10 years ago, they may not have. The same goes for digital sales–it's going to take a concerted effort on our part to get quality horses on the site and then the buyers lined up to look at them. We have a track record of building and growing auctions successfully.
TDN: How long has this particular platform been in development?
LA: Fasig Digital has been in development since the middle of Covid. Oddly enough, though Fasig-Tipton has been involved in “Digital” sales since the early days of Matchmaker Breeders Exchange and Stallion Access. Digital.fasigtipton.com, however, started as a way to work through the pandemic, but it never actually had to be deployed. Despite that, Fasig-Tipton continued to receive feedback from customers telling us that there is a need for a Fasig-Tipton digital platform in the United States.
TDN: In your previous roles in the industry, did you ever shop for horses online?
LA: I quarterbacked the sale of Juddmonte horses online and I also actively shopped online for horses to buy, so I have quite of a bit experience with online sales. I believe I have a good feel for what works for digital sales and what may not. I'm looking forward to getting Fasig Digital established and turning it into a platform where buyers are actively and regularly checking the site, excited to see what is coming up next for sale.