With the largest Fasig-Tipton online auction to-date underway–counting just over 300 diverse entries in its catalogue–their December Digital Sale is making this one to remember before it closes next Tuesday, Dec. 12 at 11 a.m. ET.
Fasig-Tipton's Director of Digital Sales Leif Aaron took time out of his busy day to discuss with the TDN the numbers, the expectations, comparisons with the physical sales and a whole lot more, as the offerings unfold through the holiday weekend.
TDN: It seems like every digital sale you are announcing a record number of entries! The sheer size of the December catalogue must be a positive? What does that say about the digital climate?
Leif Aaron: Buyers and sellers are becoming increasingly comfortable with the platform. It takes time to change people's buying habits, and obviously, digital sales are very different from a live auction. Digital is being embraced by more and more owners who are conscious of costs, stress on horses and the narrow buying base at the end of marathon auctions.
Leif Aaron: I think it's actually a case of history repeating itself, many readers will remember the days when Fasig-Tipton did stallion access. In the early 2000's, Fasig-Tipton was selling seasons, shares and options online. We are happy to try things for sellers, but mainly it depends on the stallion, stud farm and the market. Just like the digital auction it must make sense for everyone involved.
I've been begging farms to save me a couple very desirable seasons to auction in February Digital. That way when they have to say 'no' to multiple breeders, they can always offer the option of 'you can buy the last one' in February online. That hasn't gained any traction as of yet and I really am puzzled as to why.
As far as how the Flameaway breeding right and share came about, Chance Timm contacted me and said I have a client with a share and a LBR in a leading first-crop sire, can we go on the website? Darby Dan was kind enough to oblige and here we are.
TDN: Did you expect to get so many broodmares, especially just after the physical sales? Digital sales run August, October etc., so the timing has to be right, correct?
Leif Aaron: We were confident we would have a lot of breeding stock. So far on the platform we have had most of our success with broodmares and racing stock. What was a surprise to us was the number of weanlings and yearlings that were entered for this sale.
We've had some success with young horses, so I think that part of the market is currently developing online. Time of year does have to make sense in general for certain types of horses–breeding stock etc.–to sell well, but racehorses can sell no matter the time of year.
TDN: Speaking of racehorses, online seems like a perfect place to trade them (which is a very liquid market at the moment due to high purses). Could you speak about that a little? Why are racehorses maybe more suited to the digital space?
Leif Aaron: I touched on this a little bit earlier, but racehorses are in huge demand right now because of record high purses. With a digital sale, the seller can keep the horse in the barn and continue with training, while the potential buyer gets to look at the horse and look at the vetting. They are getting a lot more information than they would through the claim box.
In general, the horse racing ownership community are traders. It only makes sense for us to have a platform for those owners and trainers to buy and sell.