This Blog is dedicated to the Noble and Great horses in our lives and throughout history. Visit the land of the unicorns in Behind The Mist, the horse lover's fantasy for pre-teens to adults.

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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

RUFFIAN - Lost race, Lost Life

In Behind the Mist, The reader learns that the noble and great horses on earth are selected to become unicorns in the afterlife. This blog is dedicated to the Noble and Great horses that we know and love.

Ruffian may well have been the greatest thoroughbred filly to ever race. She won all ten of her races. On the eleventh race, she not only lost the race but she lost her life. This is the story of Ruffian, a noble and great horse that has surely earned her horn.

The beautiful filly, Ruffian, was born on April 17, 1972. Her racing career was phenominal. But it ended suddenly and tragically. In her eleventh race she was paired up with the 1975 Kentucky Derby winner, ..... It was billed as the "Equine Battle of the Sexes." Both horses had been ridden by the same jockey, Jacinto Vasquez. For this highly publisized race, Vasquez chose to ride Ruffian, thinking her the better horse. 18 million T.V. views joined the 50,000 people at Belmont Park to watch the race. The 1st quarter was run in an astonishing 22 and 1/2 seconds and Ruffian was ahead by a nose. About 1 furlong later, Ruffian was ahead by half a length. Suddenly, both sesamoid bones in her right foreleg snapped. The poor jockey struggled to get her to stop running but wasn't able to do so before her leg was pulverized.

After three hours of surgery, Ruffian awoke and began wildly thrashing about while laying on her side on the padded floor of the recovery stall. Her wild flailing undid all the repair work done during the surgery and the vets were forced to euthanize her.

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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