Monday, July 6, 2015

Ruffian Remembered.... Again

From jockey Gary Stevens.....

Exactly on this day July 6, 40 years ago, in 1975 at Belmont Park. It was a match race between her and that year's Kentucky Derby winner, Foolish Pleasure. In the past, the horses had shared the same jockey: Jacinto Vasquez. Vasquez chose to ride Ruffian in the match race, believing her to be the better of the horses; Braulio Baeza rode Foolish Pleasure. The "Great Match" was heavily anticipated and attended by more than 50,000 spectators, with an estimated television audience of 20 million.
As Ruffian left the starting gate, she hit her shoulder hard before straightening herself. The first quarter-mile (402 m) was run in 221⁄5 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. Vasquez tried to pull her up, but the filly would not stop. She went on running, pulverizing her sesamoids, ripping the skin of her fetlock and tearing her ligaments until her hoof was flopping uselessly. Vasquez said it was impossible for him to stop her. She still tried to run and finish the race. Video showed Ruffian was startled by a bird from infield and took misstep.
Ruffian was immediately attended to by a team of four veterinarians and an orthopedic surgeon, and underwent an emergency operation lasting three hours. 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 vet who treated her said that her elbow was shattered and looked like a piece of ice after being smashed on the ground. The cast slipped, and as it became dislodged it ripped open her foreleg all over again, undoing the surgery. The medical team, knowing that Ruffian would probably not survive more extensive surgery for the repair of her leg and elbow, euthanized her shortly afterward.The only race she ever lost was the one that killed her.
Foolish Pleasure's trainer, Leroy Jolley, said that he assumed Ruffian would win the match race before it was arranged; Ruffian's speed/time records and winning margins were by far better than Foolish Pleasure's. Before Ruffian broke down, she always led the field by over half a length, and once there no other horse ever passed her; she would not allow it, as demonstrated in her Sorority race when she refused to let Hot n' Nasty by her, even though she suffered from a freshly popped splint.

Never Forget the immortal Ruffian

See this post also, two years ago.  She was a real star.....

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