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Sports Then and Now



The Tragic Tale of Ruffian 3

Posted on July 06, 2011 by Dean Hybl

Many consider Ruffian to be the greatest female horse of the 20th Century.

It was 36 years ago today that an event created to be a celebration of horse racing greatness turned tragic and resulted in the death of one of the top female racehorses of all-time.

A coal black filly with champion blood lines that included Native Dancer and Bold Ruler, Ruffian had no equals during her two year racing career and was U.S. Filly Champion as a two and three year old.

In 10 career races, Ruffian was never defeated and in 1975 claimed the Filly Triple Crown (now called the Triple Tiara). She established a new record in eight different stakes races, seven of which still stand.

Her dominating victories against female horses led many to wonder if she was capable of competing with the top male horses of her time.

This led on July 6, 1975 to a match-race between Ruffian and 1975 Kentucky Derby winner Foolish Pleasure at Belmont Park. Coming only two years after the Billie Jean King-Bobby Riggs “Battle of the Sexes”, the race was promoted as a chance for America’s finest filly to show her overall dominance in the “Equine Battle of the Sexes”.

Interestingly, jockey Jacinto Vasquez was the primary rider for both horses, but chose to ride Ruffian for the match race and many experts fully expected Ruffian to pull off the victory. Read the rest of this entry →

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