In Loving Memory of Ferdinand

Just like Exceller six years before him, Ferdinand’s life ended in a slaughterhouse. Despite winning the sport’s most prestigious race, The Kentucky Derby, in 1986 Ferdinand is believed to have gone the way of so many horses who had no economic utility to their current owners.

The Exceller Fund is made up of racing fans and those who admire the strength and courage of the Thoroughbred horse. Many of our first-time website visitors have been moved by Ferdinand’s story and have come to this site to learn more about the issues facing horses whose lives on the track or in the breeding shed are over. Please browse through our website and know, that while slaughter may be an ugly reality, there are many of us that have come together to make a difference…

Memories of Ferdinand

“I was 9 years old and in love with horses, but knew nothing about horse racing, when I turned on the television one Saturday afternoon and stumbled upon the 1986 Kentucky Derby. It was the first horse race i would ever watch, but it inspired a lifetime love affair with the thoroughbred horse. I have the memory of Ferdinand to thank for introducing me to a passion that has awed, inspired, and amazed me throughout the years. What magnificent creatures these athletes are, and what magnificent memories Ferdinand gave us all. I was filled with sorrow to learn of his eventual fate. It was an inexcusable end to a horse who deserved much much more…as they all do-whether champions or not. Ferdinand will always live on in my memories.”


“One can only hope that Charlie, “The Shoe,” Ferdinand, Exceller and Sunday Silence are all together now grazing green fields. They all gave us many memorable memories that this sport provides. They also gave us many memorable disappointments that this sport can provide when everyone has served their purpose and is no longer needed to fill the money pot – either with winnings or stud fees. The only reason “Sunday” didn’t meet the same demise as Ferdinand is because he was still able to fill the stud fee requirement until his untimely illness. Graze on guys!”

– Susan

Please share your memories of Ferdinand with us. Contact us here.

October 2003

Hall of Fame Jockey, Bill Shoemaker died at age 72. Besides riding four Kentucky Derby winners, he also had the honor of riding both Exceller and Ferdinand. More about his life can be found at The Blood-Horse website.

August 2003

Exceller Fund member Danielle Rudman was so moved over the news of Ferdinand that she drew a portrait of Exceller and Ferdinand in remembrance of them.