08 June 2007


earlier today we followed a link via the dead pelican to the chronicle journal out of thunder bay, ontario, canada. the story here is about a new abc television movie filmed partially at louisiana downs called "ruffian".

ruffian was considered the greatest female race horse of all time. she ran eleven races and was undefeated until the eleventh. the eleventh race is when someone got the bright idea to race her against "foolish pleasure" that years (1975) kentucky derby winner. the race was billed as "the great match" a sort of a battle of the sexes.

"ruffian" airs on the abc television network at 8:00 pm central time saturday 09 june 2007.

17 April 1972 - 7 July 1975
ruffian wikipedia entry
ruffian memorial at find-a-grave
the chronical journal snip:
"It was much harder writing about it, having to go back there emotionally was not easy," [sports writer william] Nack said in a phone interview. "There were days I had to walk away from the manuscript. I was sorry at one point I got involved in it."

That’s because Nack was clearly smitten with the black beauty called Ruffian. He was at Belmont on July 6, 1975, when the match race - offering a US$400,000 purse that was the largest to date - was shown live on CBS.

"By the time she ran in the match race, she was already a legend," Nack said. "She was the fastest female race horse that I had ever seen."

Foolish Pleasure took the early lead before Ruffian charged up on the inside and stuck her head in front. Then, suddenly and inexplicably, Ruffian shattered the sesamoid bones and ruptured the tendons and ligaments in her right front ankle.

She continued running on her injured leg, which nearly snapped in two. Bones protruded through her torn skin, allowing sand and dirt into her bloodstream.


There’s not been another thoroughbred match race in America since Ruffian and Foolish Pleasure.

"It generated a lot of interest in the sport, but ultimately the match race was a negative because it turned a lot of people off racing for a long time," said Nack, who was so affected that he stopped covering racing regularly. He was at Pimlico when Barbaro broke down, too.
click link to read more.
  • barbaro wins the 132nd kentucky derby
  • louisiana downs begins shortened racing season
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