Archives for October 31, 2019

Decorated Invader & The West Point Grads in the Breeders’ Cup

Source:  Military Times

On Friday, Nov. 1, Finley’s team will have the opportunity to demonstrate that teamwork when one of their thoroughbreds, a 2-year-old named Decorated Invader, competes against horses from all over the world in the Breeders’ Cup.

After graduating from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1986 and serving in the Army for four years, Finley reconnected with his childhood passion and launched West Point Thoroughbreds in 1991.

“I think after you’ve had the honor of the experience at the Academy, you take away the fact that everything’s got to work together,” Finley, who grew up going to the racetracks, told Military Times. “There can’t be a weak link, and if you do have a weak link, you have to address that.”

Just like a military unit, the same rings true in the horse racing business where grooms function as the sergeants, partners as the generals, and trainers and jockeys as commander on the field, Finley said.

“Really, every part has got to be strong, every part’s got to be growing in the same direction,” Finley said.

In a cross-sectional twist of fate, Finley’s circle also includes another West Point graduate: Bill Sandbrook, who served in the Army for 13 years after graduating from West Point in 1979, and now is the chairman and CEO of US Concrete.

Together, they are owners of a thoroughbred racing horse with a military-inspired name: Decorated Invader.

Decorated Invader, whose father was named Declaration of War, has the opportunity to do just that when he competes in one of the world’s biggest horse racing contests, the Breeders’ Cup in Santa Anita, California.

After months of training, Decorated Invader made his racing debut on July 13, 2019 in Saratoga, New York, placing second. Weeks later, he secured his first victory in his next race on August 10 also in Saratoga, followed by another victory on Sept. 15 in Toronto, Ontario in Canada.

That last win paved the way for him to compete in the Breeders’ Cup, an international contest that involves 14 championship races and includes awards totaling more than $30 million. Decorated Invader is slated to participate in the Juvenile Turf race on Nov. 1.

According to TVG, the official betting partner of the 2019 Breeders’ Cup, Decorated Invader’s odds are 7:1 as of Oct. 21, meaning one would make a $7 profit off of every dollar one wagers. Additionally, the implied probability to win is 12.5 percent, per TVG’s calculations.

“Our confidence level is absolutely sky high,” Finley said. “Probably as high as it’s ever been with a horse that we’ve run in the Breeders’ Cup.”

On Saturday Decorated Invader is also set to go up against his half-brother Peace Achieved, whose father is also Declaration of War. Peace Achieved’s odds are 11:1, according to TVG. The implied probability to win translates to 8.3 percent.

“You can also have lots and lots of statistics that you can put into various degrees of sophisticated analysis to try to predict the winner,” Sandbrook said.

Although Sandbrook has long admired horses, it was only recently that he got involved in a partnership with Finley as a partial owner. The two met in 2015 during a Thayer Leader Development Group at West Point conference held at Nasdaq.

But in 2018, Sandbrook started to get involved in a partnership with West Point Thoroughbreds and has since been a majority owner of several horses, including Decorated Invader, who was purchased as a colt in Sept. 2018 for $200,000.

“”There are some really, really big races especially next summer that we would put a big circle around,” Finley said. “But it goes without saying our focus is on that next Friday.”

Finley said racing horses like he does in the U.S. is a testament to the American dream as he noted these large races attract competitors from all over the world, including horses owned by royalty in the Middle East. But the U.S. is different because it doesn’t matter who your parents are and politics are irrelevant when it comes to racing horses, Finley said.