He may not have been the fastest horse that West Point Thoroughbreds ever campaigned, but King Congie was named for one of the stable's best-loved employees. Congie DeVito suffered from brittle bone disease, and though he served as West Point's director of media relations, the disease took his life at the age of just 35. King Congie, named for the young man, was a listed stakes winner with multiple graded placings, who even contested the 2011 Preakness Stakes, finishing seventh.
In 2012, King Congie suffered a serious leg injury that required a surgical implant to save his life, according to the Saratogian. West Point's Terry Finley, an outspoken advocate for Thoroughbred aftercare, underwrote the cost of the surgery, and placed the intact horse at a farm in Saratoga where he would be used as a stallion for Quarter Horse mares. But something went wrong.
On Sept. 2 this year, King Congie had found his way to an auction house in Delaware County. With a laceration above his eye and bleeding from a wound on his ankle, the horse brought $250 in the auction ring. Dawn Robin Petrlik, owner of a local horse rescue farm, just happened to be in the parking lot later when the man who'd bought the horse was trying to resell him. Somehow, Petrlik said, she convinced him to take $100 for the horse, avoiding sending him to slaughter.
“We all jumped into action,” said Debbie Finley, contacted by Petrlik about King Congie. “This was a well-loved horse, named after a beloved man. Both of them meant so much to our team. We were so shocked when we heard about it, and we knew we had to do something.”
West Point Thoroughbreds officially adopted King Congie, and the decision was made to send the friendly horse to Old Friends at Cabin Creek, where he could live out his days greeting visitors.
“It's a huge challenge,” Finley said of the “ethical dilemma” that is Thoroughbred aftercare. “You can have all the money in the world, but it's still a structure issue. Where do these horses go?”
“Three different people owned the same horse,” echoed Petrlik. “They each thought they did right by it, and still the horse ended up in a parking lot.”
Read more at the Saratogian.
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