By Sue Finley
Fasig-Tipton will offer online bidding at all of its future live auctions, the company announced in a press release Thursday morning. The platform will be available for Fasig-Tipton’s next scheduled auction, the Midlantic Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale, to be held June 29-30 in Timonium, Maryland.
As an additional service to buyers, the company will also further expand its long-established phone-bidding program for the remainder of 2020. The service allows prospective buyers–who are not on site at an auction–to bid on horses through a member of the Fasig-Tipton staff.
“The addition of online bidding to our live auctions is a service we are pleased to offer,” said Fasig-Tipton President Boyd Browning. “At no other time has this service been more crucial or needed. As we all work to conduct business in the current COVID-19 environment of adjusted social norms, online bidding ensures the best possible marketplace for our buyers and sellers in 2020. Looking beyond 2020, we envision this service being an integral component of all future auctions.”
Browning said that Fasig-Tipton has been collaborating with a company that provides live-auction technology. “We’ve been working with a vendor that has experience with online auctions in other arenas, and we are confident that it will allow us to seamlessly conduct Thoroughbred auctions,” he said. “The product might be a little bit different, but the process is the same.”
“There is currently a live integration in a lot of auctions–just not in the Thoroughbred world,” Browning said. “A lot of equipment, cattle and other agricultural products are sold with live bidding. I’m not going to say it’s simple, but it’s also not like trying to send an astronaut to the moon. It’s all relative, and in the world we’re living in, we really didn’t feel like we had much choice. We have to do everything we possibly can to give every person that might have an inclination to buy a horse the ability to bid. I think we all recognize that in the 2020 world–whether you’re selling automobiles, own a restaurant, or are a publisher–it is going to be a challenge for everybody. At the end of the day, we want to tell our customers that we have done everything for the business that we possibly could.”
The news was met by approval from the marketplace.
“In the current COVID-19 environment, auction houses need to give all participants, from vendors to customers, absolute confidence their well-being is of the upmost importance,” said SF Bloodstock’s Tom Ryan. “Having the option to bid remotely will allow for a sensible level of social distancing. People will embrace these new bidding options. These are positive innovative tools that will expand commerce into the future.”
“We’re supportive of the move,” said Conrad Bandoroff, Vice President of Denali Stud, a perennial leading consignor. “We need to be employing all the tools necessary to make things easier for buyers in our current climate, and we need to be doing everything we can to streamline and facilitate trade for buyers. Obviously, we’ve seen its success in Australasia and it has been time for us to get on board. It’s going to be a positive change for 2020, and going forward.”
“This is good news and a much needed, overdue tool to help buy and sell horses,” said Craig Bernick in a Tweet. “Hopefully soon horses (and pieces of horses) will be sold in an auction at their best market opportunity instead of only at a few set times per year. Big sales will still happen but this will help.”
Browning was asked about other changes that might also be in store for the Midlantic Sale.
“We are doing all sorts of contingency planning,” he said. “There is a reasonable possibility of restrictions on the number of people in the pavilion, and on the number of people on the backside, but we will try to accommodate as many folks as possible. Social distancing is likely to apply at an under-tack show and at the auction itself. We’ll have to make some modifications to sales offices, and things like that. There’s the potential for some protocols that are still trying to be determined and ironed out. I think that upon the resumption of live sales, things are going to look and feel a little bit different.”
The crown jewel of Fasig-Tipton’s calendar, of course, is the Saratoga yearling sale, scheduled for August 10-11, an auction typically held over two evenings on a packed sales grounds. With the current uncertainty about the resumption of racing everywhere, including at Saratoga, Browning said Fasig-Tipton had kept in close contact with the New York Racing Association about their plans.
“We continue to be in discussions with NYRA on a weekly basis for an update on what’s transpiring in their environment,” he said. “To the best of my knowledge, as of this morning, they have not made any decisions to alter the Saratoga schedule, and neither have we. I think that both organizations continue to evaluate options and make contingency plans should changes be necessary. ”
Fasig-Tipton said they would also launch a timed, online-only auction platform at a future date, when appropriate, saying that the platform would complement the company’s live auction lineup, offering buyers and sellers additional transaction opportunities that fall outside of the traditional live auction calendar.
“In the world that we live in, companies need to be flexible and willing to adapt,” said Browning. “Fasig-Tipton will always seek to be innovative and ready to adjust our sales models to best serve the marketplace.”