Ruffian (horse)

Ruffian (horse)

Thoroughbred racehorse infobox
horsename = Ruffian

caption = Ruffian - Coaching Club American Oaks Parade
sire = Reviewer
grandsire = Bold Ruler
dam = Shenanigans
damsire = Native Dancer
sex = Filly
foaled = 1972
country = USA flagicon|USA
colour = Dark Bay
breeder = Stuart & Barbara Janney
owner = Stuart & Barbara Janney
trainer = Frank Whiteley, Jr.
record = 11:10-0-0
earnings= $313,428
race = Astoria Stakes (1974)
Spinaway Stakes (1974)
Acorn Stakes (1975)
Mother Goose Stakes (1975)
Coaching Club American Oaks (1975)
awards = U.S. Champion 2-Yr-Old- Filly (1974)
4th U.S. Triple Tiara Champion (1975)
U.S. Champion 3-Yr-Old- Filly (1975)
honours = U.S. Racing Hall of Fame (1976)
#35 - Top 100 U.S. Racehorses of the 20th Century
Ruffian Handicap at Belmont Park
TV Film: "Ruffian" (2007)
updated= May 25, 2006

Ruffian (April 17 1972 - July 7 1975) was an American champion thoroughbred racehorse, considered to be one of the greatest female racehorses of all time.

A dark bay, almost coal black filly, nearly 17 hands, Ruffian was foaled at Claiborne Farm, near Paris, Kentucky. She was bred by Stuart S. Janney, Jr. and Barbara Phipps Janney, owners of Locust Hill Farm in Glyndon, Maryland. Ruffian was sired by the Phipps family's Bold Ruler stallion, Reviewer, and out of the Native Dancer mare Shenanigans. As a yearling and 2-year old, Ruffian was trained by Frank Y. Whiteley, Jr..

She earned the nickname "Queen of the Fillies" after being voted the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Two-Year-Old Filly in 1974 and winning the Filly Triple Crown (now called the Triple Tiara) in 1975. Lucien Laurin, Secretariat's trainer, even remarked to the press once that "she may be even better than Secretariat." Ruffian was undefeated in her first ten races, covering distances from convert|5.5|furlong|km|1|lk=on to convert|1.5|mi|km|1 with an average winning margin of 8 1/3 lengths. She won her maiden race in record time and by 15 lengths. She was on lead at every point of call in every race she ever ran. She set a new stakes record in each of the eight stakes races which she won. She had also equaled two track records. If she didn't set track or stakes record, she equaled them. Ruffian had won the Sorority Stakes (set new stakes record) on a freshly popped splint, which, although not a serious injury, but painful, was enough to take the edge off a horse.

Her 11th and final race, run at Belmont Park on July 6, 1975, was a match race between Ruffian and that year's Kentucky Derby winner, Foolish Pleasure. The two horses shared the same jockey, Jacinto Vasquez. Vasquez chose to ride Ruffian in the match race, believing her to be the better of the two horses. The "equine battle of the sexes" was heavily anticipated and attended by more than 50,000 spectators, with an estimated television audience of 18 million.

Just as the starting bell sounded and the race began, Ruffian hit her shoulder extremely hard on the starting gate. She recovered quickly, but was obviously in pain and leaning more heavily on her right foreleg compensating for the pain. The first quarter-mile (402 m) was run in a blazing 22 1/5 seconds, with Ruffian ahead by a nose. Little more than a convert|1|furlong|m|0 later, Ruffian was in front by half a length when both sesamoid bones in her right foreleg snapped.cite web| last =Jones| first =Kathleen| title =Ruffian| work| year =2002| url = | accessdate =2008-05-03] Vasquez tried to pull her up, but the filly wouldn't stop. She kept on running, pulverizing her sesamoids, ripping the skin of her fetlock as the bones burst through, driving the open wound into the sting sand of the Belmont track, tearing her ligaments, until her hoof was flopping uselessly, bent up like the tip of a ski. She was known for her incredible love of running and unwillingness to lose. She had never before been behind in a race.

She was immediately attended to by a team of four veterinarians and an orthopedic surgeon, and underwent an emergency operation lasting 3 hours. Tragically, when the anesthesia wore off after the surgery, she thrashed about wildly on the floor of a padded recovery stall as if still running in the race. Despite the efforts of numerous attendants, she began spinning in circles on the floor. As she flailed about with her legs, she repeatedly knocked the heavy plaster cast against her own elbow until the elbow, too, was smashed to bits. The cast slipped, and as it became disloged it ripped open her foreleg all over again, undoing what good, if any, the surgery had done. The medical team, knowing that she would probably not survive more extensive surgery for the repair of her leg and elbow, euthanized her shortly afterwards.

Her performance in the 1975 season earned her the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Three-Year-Old Filly. In 1976, she was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. Ruffian and Foolish Pleasure's match race is the last match race the sport of kings has seen. No one with respect for Ruffian will send two horses ever again tearing at full speed for a mile and a quarter.

Her breakdown and tragic death led to a public outcry for more humane treatment of racehorses. As it is natural for horses to thrash and kick when coming out of anesthesia, a "recovery pool" was developed so that they awake suspended in warm water and don't re-injure themselves. [] Medications such as Lasix for bleeding and corticosteroids for inflammation and pain management, came into common use. While helping the horses in the short term, the increased use of medications at the track had a downside, as many more horses were raced while injured. It can be argued that thoroughbreds have become more delicate as a result of inbreeding, starting racing too young, and racing while injured; racehorses today run only half as many starts before retirement as did their counterparts 50 years ago.cite news | last =Schmidt| first =Neal| title = Horse of a different color| work =Cincinnati Enquirer| date = 2004-05-01| url =| accessdate =2008-05-03 ] Some of this effect is likely also due to breeding practices that select for horses likely to have short, brilliant careers—like Ruffian's—instead of the traditional racing career which might have lasted several years. Indeed, Ruffian's bloodline may be considered at least partly to blame for her broken leg; her sire, Reviewer, suffered three breakdowns. Also Reviewer's sire Bold Ruler was legendary for his breakdowns and painful death after standing at stud. Bold Ruler's last year at stud was when he sired the great Secretariat.cite web| last =Parker| first =Ellen| title =Ruffian - What Made Her Great Made Her Die| publisher =Pedilnes| url = | accessdate =2008-05-03] Shenanigans, her dam, broke two legs. Her damsire was Native Dancer who is "soft boned".

Regardless, Ruffian herself may be regarded as one of racing's best and brightest. "The Blood-Horse" ranked Ruffian 35th in its list of the top 100 U.S. thoroughbred champions of the 20th Century. She is the highest rated filly (or a mare) on a list of the great ones. "Sports Illustrated" included her as the only non-human on their list of the top 100 female athletes of the century, ranking her 53rd.

Ruffian is buried near a flag pole in the infield of Belmont Park. When she was alive, her trainer always put her in one of his old blankets, but when she was buried, he buried her in two of his good blankets, because she deserved them. She was buried facing toward the finish line.

"Every so often, perhaps once every fifteen or twenty years, there comes to racing a horse so perfectly conformed, so talented and so tragic that it breaks the hearts of even the most hardened horsemen. Such a horse was the filly Ruffian." - The Complete Book of Thoroughbred Racing

Further reading



External links

* [ Ruffian's pedigree]
* [ Ruffian's pedigree at thoroughbred database]
*Find A Grave|id=912

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