Dan Pride, the new executive vice president and chief operating officer of Fasig-Tipton, is going back to his auction roots in the Thoroughbred industry.
“I’m a sales junkie,” said Pride, who previously had served as the chief operations officer for Sheikh Mohammed’s Darley USA.
Pride, who officially becomes a member of Fasig-Tipton’s executive staff Sept. 8, was a high school teacher and football coach in Columbia, S.C., when he met yearling-to-juvenile pinhooker Kip Elser.
“He really took me under his wing,” said Pride, who had been interested in horses since he was a child with a pony. “I spent weekends and vacations helping Kip in Camden (S.C.), and I went to the sales with him whenever I could.”
After moving to Kentucky in 1999, Pride stayed involved in the sales game with positions at Vinery and Taylor Made Farm before joining the Darley team.
“I’m going to basically have a similar job at Fasig-Tipton to what I did at Darley,” Pride said. “It’s a day-to-day responsibility job, and I’ll be making sure things are running in the right direction. That is one the reasons why I’m so excited; I feel like I know what to do.”
Dubai-based Synergy Investments, headed by one of Sheikh Mohammed’s close associates, Abdulla Al Habbai, purchased Fasig-Tipton in May of this year.
“Internally, John Ferguson (Sheikh Mohammed’s bloodstock manager) has been the link between Synergy and Fasig-Tipton,” Pride said. “They’ve been fine-tuning what the goals are, and some of the Fasig-Tipton senior management, Boyd Browning and Walt Robertson, approached John about the potential of me joining them to help execute this vision. I love Darley, and it has been a great run, but I was ready for a new challenge, and this is going to be a great challenge.”
Synergy’s purchase of Fasig-Tipton, according to Pride, gives the sale company the opportunity to significantly increase its impact on the auction business. And Pride knows firsthand what can happen when Sheikh Mohammed and his associates decide to pursue a new venture. During Pride’s time at Darley, Dubai’s ruler established a major stallion operation in America, buying such top prospects as Street Sense and Hard Spun, and it has continued to grow.
“The potential is tremendous at Fasig-Tipton,” Pride said. “I’ve seen a glimpse of what is possible when you have a vision with resources, and we’re going to have a vision with resources. It’s a powerful combination. Google Dubai and look at what has happened there in the last 10 years. There is no question that the energy, the vision, and the resources all combine to make anything Dubai is interested in very exciting.”
When Synergy’s intent to purchase Fasig-Tipton was announced in April, Ferguson promised that Synergy would devote future operating surpluses to creating higher levels of customer serve and promoting American racing and breeding.
According to Pride, the details of how Synergy plans to accomplish those goals probably will be revealed “closer to the end of the year. For the November (select mixed) sale, you’re going to see one heck of a catalog,” he added, “ but you won’t see a lot of tangible differences operationally. It’s going to take a year; in 2009, there will be visible differences.”