I struggle everytime I see a race horse break her leg. My hanovarian, Jazz, (yes, he is the star of Behind The Mist,) didn't even have a rider on his back until he was four. These thoroughbreds are raced at TWO! I wish that could be changed.
People have suggested that the in-breeding is to blame for the delicate bones. Indeed, Ruffian seemed to have inherited weak bones. Her sire, Reviewer suffered four breaks before being put down. Her dam, Shenanigans, was put down after the second break. Her Damsire, Native Dancer, is considered the purveyer of "softbones."
One good thing happened as a result of Ruffian's death. It led to the invention of the "Recovery Pool," where horses awaken from surgery suspended in a pool of warm water.
Ruffian is buried by a flagpole in the infield of Belmont Park with her nose pointed toward the finish line. She was posthumously awarded the 1975 Eclipse Award for Outstanding Three-year-old filly. Sports Illustrated listed her as the only non-human on their list of Best 100 Female Athletes of the Century! She was 53rd on the list. Also, in her honor, the Ruffian Equine Medical Center opened on May 26, 2009. It is located outside Gate 8 of Belmont Park.
Attached is a touching tribute to her life. Beware, the beginning is quite disturbing.
The words to the song let you picture Ruffian galloping through the animal heaven as it is described in Behind the Mist.
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