Formed in 1898 by William B. Fasig and Edward A. Tipton, Fasig-Tipton Co. is North America’s oldest Thoroughbred auction company. Its first headquarters were in Madison Square Garden in New York, and Fasig-Tipton initially sold high-class road and carriage horses in addition to Thoroughbred and Standardbred racing stock.
After Fasig’s death in 1903, Tipton took on Enoch James Tranter as his partner. Tranter changed the old catalogue pages, which listed up to 30 dams, to focus on a horse’s immediate family members in racetrack performance and production. That change is still reflected in the sales catalogues of today. Fasig-Tipton also was the first auction company to require certificates of health and pregnancy at broodmare sales.
Fasig-Tipton’s Saratoga sale of selected yearlings is one of the premier horse auctions in the world. It has roots that stretch back to 1917 when Fasig-Tipton formed an alliance with some of the top Kentucky breeders to sell their yearlings during the race meet in upstate New York. The great Man o’ War sold as a yearling at the 1918 Saratoga sale.
The Saratoga sale has produced numerous household names for international horsemen, such as Raise a Native, Natalma, Hoist the Flag, Danzig, Miswaki, Conquistador Cielo, and two-time champion filly Open Mind.
The list continues as 1991 Horse of the Year Black Tie Affair, ‘93 Belmont Stakes winner Colonial Affair, ‘94 Kentucky Derby winner Go For Gin, ‘94 champion mare Sky Beauty, 2002 champion two-year-old male Vindication, ‘03 champion three-year-old male Funny Cide (New York-bred sale), and ‘05 Horse of the Year Saint Liam all emerged from the venerable New York sale grounds.
Humphrey S. Finney, for whom the Saratoga sales pavilion is named, announced his first sale for Fasig-Tipton in 1937. In his 1974 autobiography "Fair Exchange", Finney wrote about an auction company’s need to know about the horses and the value of what they are selling. That commitment to horsemanship and customer service remains a focal point for Fasig-Tipton today.
During World War II breeders could not freely ship yearlings around the country, so the Saratoga sale was put on hold. In 1943 Fasig-Tipton held the sale in a tent at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington. Fred W. Hooper Jr. purchased 1945 Kentucky Derby winner Hoop Jr. for $10,200 at the ’43 sale.
It was not until 1972 that Fasig-Tipton established its permanent Kentucky headquarters in Lexington, from which it initiates a year-round sales schedule for Thoroughbred auctions across the country.
The Kentucky division was an immediate source of high-class racing stock. Its classic winning graduates include Seattle Slew, Genuine Risk, Dancing Brave, Rainbow Quest, and Unbridled.
The highest-priced broodmare of all time, Broodmare of the Year Better Than Honour, sold for $14 million at the 2008 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky selected fall mixed sale.
Other prominent Kentucky graduates include Kentucky Derby winners Go For Gin, Big Brown and Mine That Bird; Dubai World Cup victor Captain Steve; as well as champions Artax, Silverbulletday, Blind Luck, and Dubai Majesty.
Finney and Joe O'Farrell, the pioneer of Thoroughbred breeding in Florida and founder of Ocala Stud, combined their talents in 1952 to put on the first two-year-olds in training sale at Hialeah Park. When additional training sales started in California, Maryland, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Florida, it was Fasig-Tipton conducting the auctions.
Currently, Fasig-Tipton's two-year-old sales are the only two-year-old in training sales to be conducted entirely on a dirt racetrack. Prominent two-year-old sales graduates include Kentucky Derby winners Monarchos and Nyquist; classic winners Bayern, Dortmund, and Risen Star; Japanese champion Kurofune; North American champions Gamine, Got Stormy, Left Bank, Stevie Wonderboy, and Gio Ponti; Breeders' Cup champions Mizdirection, Spun to Run; and Grade 1 winners Bellafina, Dance to Bristol, Eden's Moon, and Taiba.
Fasig-Tipton expanded operations into California in 2019 with the introduction of a two-year-olds in training sale at Santa Anita and a fall yearling sale. A horses of racing age section was added to the latter in 2022.
Synergy Investments Ltd., a Dubai-based company headed by Abdulla Al Habbai, purchased Fasig-Tipton Co. in 2008. The Hettinger family, led by John Hettinger, had been Fasig-Tipton’s majority shareholder after guiding the company through the industry struggles of the late 1980s.
With a promise to continue Hettinger’s passion and support for the industry, Synergy has updated and modernized Fasig-Tipton’s sales facilities in Lexington, Saratoga, and Timonium, as well as increased its profile internationally with the addition of representatives in Australasia, Europe, and South America. Fasig-Tipton has also made considerable technological upgrades as part of its longtime company commitment to unparalleled customer service, as well as worked to further promote North American racing and breeding throughout the world.