Thoroughbred racing is a unique industry with its own blessings and challenges, and the individuals who care for the horses behind the scenes are invisible to many. Debbie makes it her mission to give a voice to those who are often not seen in the glory of the winner’s circle, but without whom Thoroughbred racing would not exist.
As a direct result of Debbie’s efforts, the NY Race Track Chaplaincy is better able to serve the 3,500 individuals and their extended families who work at Belmont Park, Aqueduct Racetrack, and Saratoga Race Course. Our programs, which are specifically designed to improve lives and lift spirits, are better funded and executed because Debbie consistently takes on the mission of marshaling the resources of her partners, who then become our partners in our God-given mission.
Thank you, Debbie, for being a blessing to me personally and to the entire Thoroughbred racing industry.”
Debbie Finley, in her role as Head of New Business for West Point, has introduced more people to racehorse ownership than anyone in the history of racing. Think about that for a minute – partnerships have kept our industry from falling further behind its peers in the sports world. Debbie has led our efforts and it shows – simply by the numbers of Partners who join the West Point family each year.
She doesn’t do things for exposure or accolades. Each year she mobilizes friends, family, and the company’s partners to take aim at a specific need in our great industry. She gets results and her efforts have an impact on so many people and horses in need.
Very few people in racing deploy their TIME, TALENT, and TREASURE in a more impactful way than Debbie Finley.
Well done Debbie! We all love you dearly.”
Terry Finley – President and CEO, West Point Thoroughbreds
“Now that I am a mother, I have more respect and admiration than ever for my mom Debbie Finley. She worked full-time running West Point Thoroughbreds while raising two kids and always making sure we were taken care of and loved. We always had home-cooked meals on the table, the laundry was always done, and we always made it to our different activities. My dad Terry Finley was often on the road attending the sales, but somehow my mom still balanced everything. Seeing the love she now shows her grandson brings me tremendous joy.
My mom was a driving force in getting our great organization off the ground, and while she may not be the face people associate with West Point Thoroughbreds, she works hard behind the scenes. I am so proud of her and my dad for living the American Dream and starting West Point from literally one $5,000 claiming horse at Philadelphia Park.
My mom has a giving heart. She never forgets to send a wedding or baby gift to somebody she cares about and loves helping others. She’s brought our generous West Point partners together to help raise thousands of dollars for backstretch workers and their families.
She’s shy, so a lot of times, she doesn’t get the credit she deserves. So, I’m incredibly grateful that the SheHero team asked to honor her.”
Erin Birkenhauer – Daughter/West Point Thoroughbreds Racing Manager
“My mom is such an incredible and inspiring woman. She is the most selfless and caring person in the entire world. She does so much for everyone around her and never asks for anything in return.
I wouldn’t be the person I am today without her sacrifice and love. I don’t know how she did it all — attending my sister’s horse shows, driving me to soccer practices, working at West Point Thoroughbreds, and always having dinner on the table at night.
Growing up, my mom was the one whom my friends and I would confide in. We could talk to her about anything and she would always give us sound and helpful advice. My house was the place we would gather to hang out because my mom made everyone feel so welcome and at home. That is what my mom does — she makes people feel loved, comfortable, and at ease.
I am so blessed to have my mom in my life. She has a huge heart and I don’t know what I would do without her!”
Ryan Finley – Son
“I’m glad to have the chance to share my thoughts on someone special in my life. Personally, Debbie has shown a love for her family. She shows a dedication to her children, and that is something we should all aspire to. Debbie has been a one-of-a-kind mom and friend to me, and I always look forward to our family adventures!
At the track, Debbie has the rare ability of someone who can share an insider point of view on horse racing and easily relate it to someone just joining the sport. She’s the quiet person behind the program who knows how to handicap, the one who looks beyond the pages, but also the one who loves to bounce her bets around the table. I’m so glad to see her featured here — few are as deserving!”
Daniel Birkenhauer – Son-in-law
“Debbie is a devoted wife, mother and a new grandmother. She is a motivator in the horse industry from helping to promote the race season to the retired race horse. I have had the pleasure of being with her entire family at the races and I see the sparkle in her eyes that being around and participating with the horses only comes with a passion. I admire her devotion to helping the employees that care for the horses to make sure they have holiday meals. Her endless work with the horses should never go unnoticed.”
Debbie Self – West Point Thoroughbreds Partner
“In every aspect of our world, there are so many unsung heroes that keep our world spinning…the Thoroughbred industry is no different. We thank the the farm workers, the breeders, the trainers, the grooms, the hot walkers and everyone in between to help care for these animals and bring us successes. However, there are a lot of other people behind the scenes who are seldom recognized for their unwavering support and tireless efforts. Specifically, the women that keep our businesses running! They are the women in the background taking care of the kids, the employees, feeding everyone, doing all the little non-glamorous things, all while keeping up with the horses, the books, the clients and being the #1 Cheerleader! The superwoman job!
Debbie Finley is the superwoman of West Point Thoroughbreds. From the beginning of its inception, as an one-horse stable for a young couple who loved horse racing in New Jersey, she has helped bring the enthusiasm for the game to forefront and share it with those around her. From the first race, she packed her 3-year-old daughter to Philadelphia Park, while pregnant with her son, alone, so that she could call her husband (Terry) and give him the play by play. They won that day and the love of the game grew even more. As we all know, this game isn’t easy and the highs come with the lows, but that has never derailed Debbie. Their love of horse racing didn’t start out with the idea of becoming the large partnership it is today, but as they had fun, their friends wanted to be part of that fun! And as some would say, the rest is history. But, behind the scenes it all started with Mama Finley and her dedication and absolute love for this game and has taken them to the biggest dances around the world!
In our current industry, the kind of enthusiasm, honesty and dedication to the horse that Debbie has given our sport needs to be showcased! She has been a true role model. Thank you, Debbie!”
Kendra Penn – Pennland Farm/Penn Sales
“Just a few thoughts on a woman who is a wonderful mom, wife, boss and friend. I am honored to call her friend and partner. Debbie is an honest loyal friend with high integrity and strong character. She is a wonderful example to young women today.”
Teresa Viola – St. Elias Stable/Teresa Viola Racing Stable
“Joining the West Point partnership and team has truly been an enhanced experience because of my dear friend Deb Finley. Deb always takes time out of her busy schedule to catch up with me, even if it is hours upon hours at Saratoga Tea & Honey.
I’m from the Northeast originally even though now I live in Texas with my husband. Oddly enough, living my whole life just hours away, I’ve never experienced Saratoga until Deb gave me the tour. She gave my the skinny on the right places to eat and shop. She made me fall in love with Saratoga and the Saratoga meet. My SheHero friend Deb introduced me to so many new friends in the Thoroughbred world. Each one of my friends and family that I’ve introduced to racing, Deb comes along and makes them feel part of our team.
My husband and I are part of a family with West Point Thoroughbreds and Deb Finley is the matriarch of that family. I adore Deb and cherish the friendship I found in her.”
Amy Singleton – West Point Thoroughbreds Partner
‘There are a lot of unsung heroes in the Thoroughbred industry but no one does more for the game than my friend Debbie Finley. For years Debbie has worked to bring people into the game that if not for partnerships would never know the thrill of standing in the winners circle. But it’s the things that she does that no one sees, such as working to make sure the horses are retired to good homes and her tireless efforts to make backside workers and childrens’ lives much better. These are just a few reasons that I believe that Debbie is a deserving SheHero.”
Tammy Fox – Romans Racing
“Trying to succinctly explain why Debbie Finley is a Horse Racing World SheHero is a challenge. There are so many avenues one could travel! So I’ll boil it down to this. Debbie is always thinking of the entire ecosystem of people involved with racehorse ownership.
On the ownership side, Debbie delights our Partners with personalized ideas to make their experiences even more memorable. She is one to recognize a Partner’s professional achievement or extend sympathy for a personal loss.
On the West Point team side, Debbie considers everyone part of an extended family and looks out for each of us as any parent would do. She hands out plenty of “attaboys” and even on occasion some tough love. Plus, she has a sense of humor that truly can make you laugh out loud over company chat.
Perhaps one of her greatest strengths is the compassion she shows to the people and families who take care of the horses on the backstretch. Ever since I can remember, Debbie energizes the West Point Partners to help with coat drives, holiday toy drives, and to support charities benefiting backstretch workers beyond the meaningful impact she and her family have with their time, treasure, and talent. I’ve seen her in action in the trenches of her charitable committee work. She is personally involved in the activities which make those charitable events successful and fun. She raised her children to act on the importance in giving back. I admire that, and am trying to instill that in my own young children.”
Dawn Lenert – West Point Thoroughbreds CMO
“Debbie is one of the kindest people I have ever known. Her sense of empathy when members of the company or our partners are going through a personal tragedy is unequaled. She’s the first to think of the absolute right gesture to help someone in a time of great emotional need. She is uncanny at knowing when a person needs a boost and what she can do to make them feel better.
From a professional standpoint, her dedication to developing new owners (a critical part of the future survival of racing) has been nothing short of heroic. Debbie is consistently looking to find new ways to help those who have the passion for horse racing get involved in ownership. We joke that she’s relentless in her quest….but it’s true. And it’s one of the many qualities I have come to admire about her.”
Jeff Lifson – West Point Thoroughbreds EVP
“I have been fortunate enough to know Debbie for many years now. In the time that I have known her, she has become a role model to me. She has shown me what it is like to be a an amazing grandmother, mother, friend and overall human being.
Even though she is a busy lady, dedicating her time to WPT and also supporting her husband and his many causes, Debbie still has time to volunteer on her own. She doesn’t do this for recognition ￼or a pat on the back. She does this because she genuinely cares. She does her work quietly, which speaks towards her humility as a person.
Debbie helps children on the backside, making sure their families have holiday dinners and gifts. She is an advocate for those who work with our horses day in and day out. She encourages them, no matter who they are, to accomplish their goals. She gives them the comfort of knowing that someone is in their corner looking out for them.
Our industry needs more women like Debbie — women to lead not only with her minds, but with their hearts and souls. While you move forward in this holiday season with your families, take the time to look around and help those who need it most. Remember that paying forward starts with you, and let Debbie Finley continue to be a wonderful example for us all.”
Nancy Dollase – West Point Thoroughbreds