Those of us in the horse industry know all too well about Exceller and his untimely end, and his story has been the catalyst for many to become engaged in equine advocacy. It is that same legacy that ultimately spared the life of an all but lost horse named Deltamax – a direct descendent of Exceller – and helped him find a home as a beloved pet and fellow student with his current owner Bonnie Mizrahi.
Bred and raised in Florida, Deltamax was a promising young colt entering the 2007 OBS August Yearling Sale, where he sold for $40,000, significantly higher than his sire's yearling average that year. Eventually, he was shipped to California and landed in the barn of trainer Vladimir Cerin, who put him in a maiden claiming race July 18, 2008 at Del Mar. Deltamax finished ninth in his debut, and he wouldn't do much better in six career starts, save for a second-place finish at Fairplex. In his final start, Nov. 4, 2009 at Santa Anita, he finished 10th.
It's unclear what transpired between that early November afternoon and February of the following year, but it was starkly apparent that the months had not been kind to Deltamax.
“In February 2010, Deltamax was found at Mike's Livestock Auction in Mira Loma, California in poor health and very underweight,” said the horse's current owner Bonnie. “Southern California Thoroughbred Rescue bid seventy-five dollars against a local meat buyer for him and then incurred about twelve hundred dollars in vet expenses.”
Aside from being in desperate need of the basic equine necessities like food, farrier work, and worming, Deltamax had an animal bite on his neck, which had become infected and was preventing him from being able to swallow.
Southern California Thoroughbred Rescue (SCTR) posted an update about Deltamax on its Facebook page, requesting donations from supporters. Because of the horse's bloodlines, SCTR president Caroline Betts also reached out to The Exceller Fund to see if they would be willing to assist in funding Deltamax's recovery.
As one of the founding board members of The Exceller Fund, Bonnie is a longtime Thoroughbred advocate and was integral in the organization's donation of grant money for Deltamax's veterinary care.
It was thanks to that grant from The Exceller Fund and several other donations that Deltamax received the care and veterinary attention he needed, and by November of 2011, he was ready to find his forever home.
Deltamax was green, however, and with so many other horses to be placed, he was still available for adoption nearly two years later, which was just about the same time that Bonnie was seriously considering getting her first horse.
“I had spent long hours working for The Exceller Fund on fundraisers, newsletters, e-mail updates, the website, arranging transport all over the country, coordinating vet and farrier visits, and assisting with foster care placement for horses I had never seen in person,” said Bonnie. “So, when my daughter was set to graduate from UCLA in June, I thought it was time for me to realize my dream of having my own horse, and that horse had to be an OTTB because that is where my heart is solidly placed.”
Fate works in mysterious ways, and the day Bonnie sat down at her computer with her mind on finding an OTTB of her own was the same day that Deltamax was featured on the SCTR Facebook page. Every journey starts with a single step, and Bonnie's first step was to call SCTR to inquire about Deltamax.
“Even though Caroline knew me, it was not a done deal, because she is very careful about approving adoptions,” explained Bonnie. “She was concerned that I had never owned a horse before, much less a green OTTB, and I have never had actual riding lessons – just barn-sour rental ponies.”
So, Bonnie found Mountain Meadow, a full-care boarding facility close to her home that came highly recommended by others involved in horse rescue and a trainer with experience in re-training Thoroughbreds off the track.
“Trainer Dave Drulias was experienced with OTTBs and was willing to work with both me and the horse,” said Bonnie. “Caroline approved the adoption after speaking with Dave for about half an hour, and within the week, I had my very own pony!”
It's only been since June of this year that Bonnie has had Deltamax, who now goes by Maxwell, but she couldn't be happier with the progress that they've made together.
“Both Maxwell and I are learning from our trainer, Dave,” said Bonnie. “He's been thriving since he arrived at Mountain Meadows. My goal is to one day ride him on trails in the hills above Chatsworth, and to also do some riding in the arena.”
Name: Deltamax (a.k.a. “Maxwell”)
Born: March 21, 2006
Color: Dk b/br
Sire: Omega Code
Dam: Against the Code
Sale History: Sold at OBSAUG in 2007 for $40,000 as a yearling
Race Record: 6-0-1-0
Race Earnings: $5,200
If you have or know of a retired Thoroughbred with an interesting story to tell, we'd love to hear about it! Just email Jen Roytz ([email protected]) with the horse's Jockey Club name, background story, and a few photos.
Jen Roytz is the marketing and communications director at Three Chimneys Farm in Midway, Kentucky. She also handles the farm's Thoroughbred aftercare efforts. She currently owns Point of Impact (by Point Given; a.k.a. Boomer), who retired from racing in late 2011 and is in training as a hunter/jumper. Contact Jen on Facebook and Twitter.
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