08/22/2016 1:48PM

King Congie saved from slaughterhouse

Coady Photography/Keeneland
King Congie was Grade 1-placed, having finished third in the 2011 Blue Grass Stakes.

On Friday night, Rosemary Farm, a horse-rescue operation in the Catskills region of New York, purchased an unknown Thoroughbred with a “strange leg” from a livestock auction where kill buyers were shopping and immediately drove him to Rhineback Equine Hospital for evaluation.

“It’s a mystery how he came to be in need,” Rosemary representatives later wrote on their Facebook page, as the horse’s identity was being determined. “His left leg was so lumpy that we decided to take him right in to be looked at in case he needed immediate intervention. Turns out, we were looking at a [currently existing] surgical implant, a major and expensive repair to his leg where it was broken. A $10,000 surgery that would have saved his life ... who paid for this? ... This gives us hope that aside from being a talented athlete, that this boy was loved.”

It turns out that the farm’s mystery horse, an “impulse save,” was the 8-year-old ridgling King Congie, a winner of 2 of 11 career starts for West Point Thoroughbreds, including a score in the 2011 Tropical Park Derby. He also finished third in the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes and Grade 3 Saranac Stakes. His effort in the Blue Grass earned him a start in the 2011 Preakness, where he was seventh.

King Congie last raced in April 2012, and following a career-ending injury, West Point provided surgery to assure his quality of life as a retiree. When Rosemary reached out about the horse’s identity, West Point was surprised to find him in such condition, as he had fallen through the cracks after the partnership seemingly secured his retirement.

“He was adopted by a friend of reputable farm owner in Saratoga. So saddened to hear somebody could do this to such a special horse,” West Point posted on its social media outlets.

West Point plans to assume the costs associated with King Congie’s care.

“We’re adopting him, and he’ll be picked up in a few days. He’ll have a great life,” West Point said.

King Congie was named for former West Point employee Congie DeVito, who died in February 2011, shortly after his namesake’s win in the Tropical Park Derby, of complications from osteogenesis imperfecta. He was 35.

In his honor, West Point, a longtime leader in Thoroughbred aftercare, established the Congie Black and Gold Fund to provide for the rehoming, retraining, shipping, and daily care of former West Point runners. Beginning in 2012, financials for each new partnership formed by West Point included a $1,000 donation to the fund; $10 per start per horse is drawn from the partnership to be placed into a fund for that horse’s future, with West Point matching the amount.

Former West Point runners in second careers include stakes winner Rock Me Baby, who is training for the 2016 Thoroughbred Makeover. Commanding Curve, the runner-up in the 2014 Kentucky Derby, joined Olympic event rider Phil Dutton’s barn in May to train for a new career.