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King Congie Will Have An Angel Riding Along With Him in May 21st Preakness

May 12, 2011 · By Erin Birkenhauer · Share

When King Congie breaks from the starting gate in next Saturday's Preakness Stakes (G1) at  Pimlico, he may be carrying something more than jockey Robby Albarado on his back. “We like to think that Congie DeVito will be along for the ride with his angel wings,” said president and founder of West Point Thoroughbreds, Terry Finley. “Riding is something he could not do when he was confined to a wheelchair his entire life, but we think he is with this horse each time he goes to the post.” Finley should know. He’s the one who hired the persistent Congie DeVito about twelve years ago when WPT was just getting off the ground.

Congie DeVito was born with 25 broken bones in his body due to osteogenesis imperfecta, a condition he lived with his entire life. Although he broke 100 more by the time he was 12 and spent his life in a wheelchair, Congie did not let this condition hold him back. He graduated from Temple University with honors.  His mother, Roberta, drove him to and from school virtually every day and pushed him from class to class in his wheelchair. For those that knew Congie, he was an intelligent, passionate, kind individual who developed strong relationships with people from all walks of life and was an inspiration to many after overcoming so much.  

A lifelong, passionate Thoroughbred racing fan, DeVito gave himself a graduation present, a share in one of West Point’s horses so he could fulfill a lifelong dream of being a Thoroughbred owner. Soon after, DeVito offered his services to Finley building t

he company’s website and managing client communications, and kept calling Finley for weeks insisting that he could do the job. Finley hired him and DeVito served as Communications Director for WPT for 12 years. Last summer, Finley gave DeVito the opportunity to name one of the racing syndicate’s horses after himself, and DeVito chose King Congie. For those that knew him, the name was fitting to say the least.

"Congie was an inspiration to everybody," said WPT Partner and best friend of Congie, Rob Masiello. "He made the best of his situation and lived life to the fullest. Next Saturday is my 30th birthday. I'd like to think Congie is going to do something special for me. It's going to be a very emotional, yet fun day for everybody. Win, lose, or draw, King Congie holds a special place in many people's hearts."
Despite a less than spectacular start to his racing career, King Congie (the horse) blossomed after he tried racing on the grass and became a stakes winner on New Year’s Day, winning the Tropical Park Derby at Calder Racecourse. Congie, the human, was over the moon and joked about getting an all white suit to wear to the Kentucky Derby. Unfortunately Congie DeVito died in February before he could get that white suit and before he could see the horse fall just a neck short of qualifying for the Kentucky Derby. King Congie finished third, a neck behind Brilliant Speed in the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes, ending his hopes of going to Louisville but inspiring his owners to head to Baltimore for the Preakness Stakes.
Many of King Congie's owners from all over the country are traveling to Maryland to see their horse compete on one of horse racing’s biggest stages. They know their colt has a legitimate shot to win, and they are pretty certain somewhere there will be a man in a white suit running as fast as he can on two legs cheering the colt on in the biggest race of his young career.

"It's so great to see so many people coming to Baltimore," said WPT director of communications Erin Finley. "Not only is it great to see people becoming involved in the industry, it's also touching to see people honoring Congie DeVito through this horse. Congie was not only my colleague, but a dear, dear friend. I know he would want nothing more than to see a group of happy people cheering King Congie back to the winner's circle next Saturday."

Good News Friday: Paulick Report Article on Congie
Paulick Report Article About Congie's Life
Facebook Tribute Page
Robby Albarado To Ride King Congie in Preakness 

TVG Feature on Congie DeVito and his namesake, King Congie 

 

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