I’ve driven down Route 9 from Wilton countless times on my way to Saratoga Springs and had no idea I was whizzing past the headquarters of horse racing royalty. Just off the road and up the street from Maple Avenue Middle School sits West Point Thoroughbreds (WPT), a racing partnership manager and creator, which in less than three decades, has won its partners 840 races—11 of which were Grade 1 stakes races—including a coveted Kentucky Derby, which it took home aboard Always Dreaming in 2017. In total, WPT has garnered its partners more than $50 million in purse money. Not a bad ROI, right?
If you’re trying to understand what WPT does, think of it as a horse racing hedge fund. It purchases untested yearlings and two-year-old horses at auction, then builds and manages groups of investors, who buy fractional “shares” in each horse. These partnerships or “syndicates” could be made up of trainers, racing insiders, experts or just about any Saratogian who has the disposable income to buy in. (Obviously, there’s a minimum investment cost, and that can vary from horse to horse.) And just like playing the stock market, the more horses you invest in, the better your chances are of winning big.
Sounds like an easy moneymaking equation, right? Not so, says Terry Finley, West Point Thoroughbreds’ President and CEO, who founded the company in 1991 in Cherry Hill, NJ. “We struggled to make our mark for a lot of years,” he says. Make that 16 in total: WPT didn’t have its first Grade 1 stakes win until 2007. Growing up in nearby Levittown, PA, Finley was the youngest of seven children, getting the horseplaying bug early from his “racing nut” father. Then, during an eight-year stint as an artillery officer in the US Army—hence the “West Point” in his company’s name, where he earned a degree in mechanical engineering—Finley founded WPT. Three years later, he retired from the military and went all in on his dream business. “I had a strong sense that there was nothing else out there that would even come close to igniting my passion and my enthusiasm like the horse racing business,” Finley says.
Nowadays, the 55-year-old makes his home in Saratoga—literally within eyeshot of the track. And despite those early setbacks, following his passion has paid off exponentially. In addition to that Derby win, which Finley describes as “life-changing,” WPT now has five offices dotting the country, including its headquarters in Saratoga. WPT has also worked with some of the biggest names in racing throughout the years, including legendary jockey Richard Migliore (a.k.a. “The Mig”) and his son, Joe, who’s a Partner Associate at the company.
At this point in his career, Finley has nothing but positive things to say about WPT’s future. “Our partnership statistics just keep getting better,” he says. “I’m more pumped and motivated about this game than I’ve ever been.” Now that I know a little bit more about WPT, I have a foolproof idea: a saratoga living syndicate! Who’s with me?