Ruffian (horse): Wikis


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Ruffian Ruffian.jpg
Sire Reviewer
Grandsire Bold Ruler
Dam Shenanigans
Damsire Native Dancer
Sex Filly
Foaled 1972
Country United States United States
Colour Seal brown
Breeder Stuart & Barbara Janney
Owner Stuart & Barbara Janney
Trainer Frank Y. Whiteley, Jr.
Record 11:10-0-0
Earnings $313,428
Major wins
Astoria Stakes (1974)
Spinaway Stakes (1974)
Sorority Stakes (1974)
Acorn Stakes (1975)
Mother Goose Stakes (1975)
Coaching Club American Oaks (1975)
U.S. Champion 2-Yr-Old- Filly (1974)
4th U.S. Triple Tiara Champion (1975)
U.S. Champion 3-Yr-Old- Filly (1975)
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)
Infobox last updated on: May 25, 2006.

Ruffian (April 17, 1972 - July 7, 1975) was an American champion thoroughbred racehorse, considered to be among the greatest U.S. racehorses of all time. Her story was told in 2007 film Ruffian.



A seal brown, 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..[citation needed]

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, said this quote to the press "As God as my witness, she may even be better than Secretariat." Ruffian was undefeated in her first ten races, covering distances from 5.5 furlongs (1.1 km) to 1.5 miles (2.4 km) 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 (setting a 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.[citation needed]

Final race and death

Ruffian's eleventh race was run at Belmont Park on July 6, 1975. It 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; Braulio Baeza rode Foolish Pleasure. 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.[citation needed]

As she left the starting gate she hit her shoulder hard, straightened herself, and they were running. The first quarter-mile (402 m) was run in a blazing 22 1/5 seconds, with Ruffian ahead by a nose. Little more than 1 furlong (201 m) later, Ruffian was in front by half a length when both sesamoid bones in her right foreleg snapped.[1] Vasquez tried to pull her up, but the filly wouldn't stop. "She went 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."[2]

She was immediately attended to by a team of four veterinarians and an orthopedic surgeon, and underwent an emergency operation lasting three 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.[2] The cast slipped, and as it became dislodged it ripped open her foreleg all over again, undoing the surgery. She also broke the rest of her legs front and back. 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.[1]

Aftermath of Ruffian's Death

Ruffian's breakdown and 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. [1] Medications such as Lasix for bleeding and corticosteroids for inflammation and pain management, came into common use. However, 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 was argued within the sport that thoroughbreds became more delicate as a result of inbreeding, starting racing too young, and racing while injured. [3]Ruffian will always be remembered as one of the greatest race horses in history.

Ruffian's Bloodline

Ruffian's bloodline may be considered at least partly to blame for her broken leg; her sire, Reviewer, suffered three breakdowns in his racing career. After his fourth and last breakdown, obtained while in his paddock, he had to be euthanized after operation. [4] [1][5] Shenanigans, Ruffian's dam, broke two legs during her life, and was euthanized following intestinal surgery May 21, 1977. Ruffian's damsire, Native Dancer is often considered to be the purveyer of "soft boned" genetics. [6]


34 years after she died, Ruffian was honored again through the Medical Center at Belmont Park named after her.

The Ruffian Equine Medical Center was opened in May 26. 2009. It cost $18 million and is located outside Gate 8 of Belmont Park. Inside the facility, specialists work to solve problems before they become major issues, such as a colt showing lameness that can be diagnosed and cured before he makes the track, perhaps providing such an animal to do his job and even have a good life beyond the track.

Ruffian is buried near a flag pole in the infield of Belmont Park, with her nose pointed toward the finish line.[1]

Ruffian posthumously earned the 1975 Eclipse Award for Outstanding Three-Year-Old Filly. In 1976, she was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. 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 the list. By virtue of that ranking lays claim to the title "Filly of the Century." She was also only female horse on both lists (best male, best female).Sports Illustrated included her as the only non-human on their list of the top 100 female athletes of the century, ranking her 53rd.[7]


Pedigree of Ruffian
Bold Ruler Nasrullah Nearco
Mumtaz Begum
Miss Disco Discovery
Broadway Hasty Road Roman
Traffic Court
Flitabout Challedon
Bird Flower
Native Dancer Polynesian Unbreakable
Black Polly
Geisha Discovery
Bold Irish Fighting Fox Sir Gallahad
Erin Transmute
Rosie O'Grady

Further reading

  • Schwartz, Jane (1994-03-02). Ruffian: Burning From the Start. New York: Ballantine Books. ISBN 0345386027. 
  • Toby, Milton (2002-01-25). Ruffian (Thoroughbred Legends, No. 13). Eclipse Press. ISBN 1581500599. 
  • Lyshin, Lyn (2006-02-10). The Licorice Daughter: My Year with Ruffian. Texas Review Press. ISBN 1881515796. 
  • Nack, William (2007-05-08). Ruffian: A Racetrack Romance. ESPN Books. ISBN 1933060301. 
  • Hanna, Linda (2008-04-15). Barbaro, Smarty Jones & Ruffian: The People's Horses. Wilmington, DE: Middle Atlantic Press. ISBN 0970580452. 

Note: The song "The Great Match (Ruffian)" by Gerry Lukacik is dedicated to Ruffian. Ruffian was a pink color




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