The entrance at Fasig-Tipton Kentucky

The entrance at Fasig-Tipton Kentucky

Anne M. Eberhardt

Fasig-Tipton: Puttin' on the Ritz

Facilities at Calder have been upgraded for the company's select juvenile sale.

When Dubai-based Synergy Investments purchased Fasig-Tipton last year, Sheikh Mohammed’s bloodstock manager, John Ferguson, vowed the Kentucky-based auction firm would strive to offer higher levels of customer service. According to shoppers at Fasig-Tipton’s Florida select sale of 2-year-olds in training, the company is fulfilling that promise.

“I really commend Fasig-Tipton for their efforts to bring people here,” said Kentucky bloodstock agent Headley Bell. “They had a real strong recruiting process to get a lot of European buyers. They’ve put some people up and paid for some things. They’ve really made a heck of an effort.”

Improvements in the facilities at Calder Race Course include a plush tent complex on the backstretch that has a business center, a video room with a bar, a café (where breakfast and lunch is served) with orchids on the tables, and carpeted floors. In the video room, buyers can view the pre-sale workouts of all the sale’s horses that are being shown continuously on television monitors, or they can use the three kiosks to watch the workouts of just the horses in which they are interested, one at a time. The workouts were recorded in  high-definition.

The business center has two conference rooms and computers that connect to the Internet. Buyers and consignors can relax on an outdoor patio in the center of the tent complex.

Sale participants enter the complex through a reception area that is decorated incorporating the retro theme of this year’s sale catalog, which has a vintage Florida racing scene on its cover. There is a bright orange and white color scheme, and large black-and-white photographs hang on the walls.

Fasig-Tipton created the complex with the help of Prime Events, a company that has provided temporary facilities for golf's Ryder Cup and the Super Bowl.

Prior to this year, Fasig-Tipton's customers visiting the Calder backstretch had to try to find a place to work and view workout videos in the track's offices. They dined in the track kitchen or snacked on food that some consignors provided.

“It looks like they want to do things for people,” said New Jersey bloodstock agent Buzz Chace of Fasig-Tipton's staff. “It’s the start of a big, new era. To me, it’s first class.”

Fasig-Tipton upgraded the food that was sold at the Calder snack bar during the under tack show. In the past, the menu had focused on fast food, but this year, there were overstuffed gourmet sandwiches and garden and fruit salad platters in addition to grilled chicken breast sandwiches, hamburgers, and cheeseburgers. There also was free bottled Saratoga spring water available in the Calder grandstand.

Buyers found bottles of wine from Fasig-Tipton in their hotel rooms and received beach-themed gift baskets that contained a GPS (global positioning system) device, which was pre-programmed with directions to Calder and Gulfstream Park.

In addition, Fasig-Tipton sponsored the Feb. 28 Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) at Gulfstream. The company’s guests had prime seats for the race, and they were invited to a party in the track’s paddock after the afternoon’s competition ended.

“We’re trying to treat our customers right, and I think they like it,” said Fasig-Tipton president Walt Robertson. “Everything has been well-received.”