Generally considered the greatest filly of all time, Ruffian won her first ten races by an average of 8.5 lengths. A fast starter, she never trailed at any interval in any of her 10 races. Some horse racing insiders dared to say Ruffian had the potential to be better than 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat. Ruffian's eleventh and final race was run at Belmont Park on July 6, 1975. It was a match race between Ruffian and that year's Kentucky Derby winner, Foolish Pleasure. In the past, the two 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 two horses. (Bettors agreed; Ruffian was a 2:5 favorite.) 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 she left the starting gate Ruffian hit her shoulder hard before straightening herself. The first quarter-mile was run 22 and 1⁄5 seconds, with Ruffian ahead by a nose. Little more than a furlong 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 wouldn't stop. She went on running, pulverizing her sesamoids, ripping the skin of her fetlock, 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.
She 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 that 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 she would probably not survive more extensive surgery for the repair of her leg and elbow, euthanized her shortly afterward. She was buried at Belmost Park with her nose facing the finish line.
Added: 7th July 2012
Posted By: Lava1964