Home News Local news Stateside Horseracing Writer Takes an Interest in Local Thoroughbred Rescue Effort

Stateside Horseracing Writer Takes an Interest in Local Thoroughbred Rescue Effort


Feb. 13, 2006 — ESPN.com writer Bill Finley looked at the sign at the VICCTRE facilities at St. Thomas Dairies. The sign said "Seattle Chief."
After thinking for a moment, Finley, a New York-based freelancer who writes about horse racing, said, "I remember that horse."
Seattle Chief raced in the states, which is how Finley knew the horse, and Seattle Chief is now retired and living a much slower-paced life on St. Thomas.
"Talk about a small world," Finley said later, looking at the brown horse in his outdoor paddock.
The horse rescue world is small: Finley wrote an article about VICCTRE ((V.I. Community Cooperative Thoroughbred Retirement Efforts) in September 2004 for ESPN.com. Since then, VICCTRE has sent six horses to the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, where Finley's wife, Sue, is the first vice president. RTF is a nationwide thoroughbred retirement adoption and care network.
It was those small world connections that brought the Finleys to the first official tour of the VICCTRE facilities at St. Thomas Dairies. The Finleys are on vacation this week on St. Thomas, and they made visiting VICCTRE a top priority.
"To see this is remarkable," Bill Finley said. He also said he was impressed with the amount of effort VICCTRE's members have put into promoting awareness about the plight of some retired horses.
"It sounds like you've done a really good job in changing attitudes here," Bill Finley said to VICCTRE founders during the tour.
VICCTRE moved to the Dairies in the summer of 2005 from a private club in Wintberg. Becky Petri, Kate Johnson, Lynn Utech and Caroline Briggs founded VICCTRE in 2004. They have helped more than 20 horses get veterinary care, nourishment, love, and in many cases new homes in the states or elsewhere in the territory.
As they walked through the stable and toward the outdoor paddocks, Sue Finley asked Petri "What do you need more than anything?"
Without skipping a beat, Petri said "Money."
Feeding and housing horses, taking care of their veterinary needs and more are all very expensive. VICCTRE's move to St. Thomas Dairies was partly a financial decision.
"It's not practical for a non-profit organization to play club fees," Johnson said.
VICCTRE took what was basically an abandoned barn, Johnson said, and turned it into a home for horses in need.
Petri said, "The owner of the Dairies [Fred Hintz] is a really nice guy and he was very welcoming."
VICCTRE's facilities can hold 11 horses, and they are at capacity now. Four horses will be going to the states over the next two months, and three more are looking for homes.
Other sections of the horse area are rented to a private horse owner and to the V.I. Riding Academy.
The horses VICCTRE takes in are in a variety of conditions. Silver Express, a retired racehorse, had no real mane or tail and he was severely underweight.
"We thought he was old," Petri said, because of the condition he was in when he came to VICCTRE.
Since under VICCTRE's care, Silver Express has gained 400 lbs. and has a healthy coat, mane and tail.
"He's kind of our swan song now," Petri said.
Panametro, a retired race horse from St. Croix, lay in his stall with a torn ligament, but eagerly accepted carrots from Johnson.
"We'd love to be able to help [VICCTRE] more," Sue Finley said.
And it looks like they will. Before leaving, the Finleys and the VICCTRE Co-Founders started brainstorming fundraising ideas and new ways to work together.
VICCTRE is hosting an open house March 4 at St. Thomas Dairies, with times and details to be announced. For more information about the horses or about donating to VICCTRE, call 9980-0331 or go to
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