For the second time in the Triple Crown races this year, the West Point Thoroughbreds syndicate will be sending a runner postward when High Finance competes in Saturday's Belmont Stakes (gr. I). West Point's Flashy Bull drew the outside post in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and suffered from a wide and troubled trip throughout, finishing 14th some 25 lengths in arrears.
High Finance, though, figures to have a much better shot to make a name for himself in New York. The son of Talk is Money
has two consecutive sharp victories in his column, including an allowance score at Belmont May 4 where he kicked away from his field by five lengths.
Their presence on racing's biggest stages has been a boon to West Point Thoroughbreds. The syndicate members were visible all Derby week enjoying Flashy Bull, and 14 partners own a piece of High Finance. Some of West Point's original members include four college buddies from Colgate University in Hamilton, N.Y., who are in on both High Finance and Flashy Bull.
Terry Finley, a former Army captain and West Point graduate, founded West Point Thoroughbreds in 1991, but the organization kicked into high gear 10 years ago. His phone has been ringing a bit more since the Triple Crown campaign hit Louisville. "We realize how tough it is to get to races like these. That's certainly what we're in the business to do.
"Over the years it's staggering what you spend for these horses. If you look at the financials, you wouldn't be in the business. But then you have horses like these, and the partners have a ball with it. We really cherished that Derby experience as much as we could."
Finley purchased High Finance for $120,000 at the Fasig-Tipton July sale two years ago as part of a package of five yearlings. He was the least expensive of the five, but Finley liked his athletic build. "He was more solid than spectacular," Finley noted. "We were planning to sell him at a 2-year-old sale, but he bucked his shins and we ended up keeping. (Jockey) Eibar Coa just loves him. He said the horse's mental development has been significant over the past month."
With Deputy Minister on the sire side and Conquistador Cielo, a Belmont winner, on the bottom, High Finance just might be able to handle the 12 furlongs of the Belmont at a juicy mutuel. And if he does, partnerships figure to get even more popular as far as prospective horse owners go.
"We have 80 head now, as many as we've had," Finley noted. "I think there's been an uptick in interest in partnerships. We will syndicate $5 million worth of horses at sales this year, from small investments."
Finley, who used to come to the Belmont Stakes by train with his father from their Trenton, N.J., home when he was a child, said his company has nine full-time staff people, giving it a support structure that is key to customer service. Should High Finance land the money Saturday, they will be very busy.