A Gift From the Racing Gods

by Ed Meyer

posted on July 7, 2015 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Horse Racing, WinningPonies.com | No Comments >>


Forty years ago today, one of the best fillies that ever graced the track broke down at Belmont Park in a match race. – Early on she had many other names. ” The fat yearling, the freak, and the filly that didn’t want to run. Hard to believe she had ever toted the weight of such names, and you can file them with the same folks who sold Babe Ruth’s contract.” – Beauty comes in many forms, and she had a gleam that would have blinded the sun. – I’ve watched her race on You Tube a million times, and every time I still hold out hope. Since that fateful day there has never been a match race between two racing champions.


She was foaled at Claiborne Farm near Paris, Kentucky. She was bred by Stuart Janney Jr. and Barbara Phipps Janney, owners of Locust Hill Farm. She won her maiden race in record time by 15 lengths. She was on the lead at every point of call in every race she ever ran. She set a new stakes record in each of the eight stakes races she won. She also equaled two track records. – When you think of every great runner you have witnessed in present times, it’s hard to compare, as it just wouldn’t be fair.


As you read the past performance lines, you’ll find it pretty tough to find many in this rare filly’s company. – Jockey Jacinto Vasquez had ridden both Ruffian and Foolish Pleasure before, and Vasquez chose the filly. Braulio Baeza had the mount on Foolish Pleasure. The “Great Match” was heavily anticipated and attended by more than 50,000 spectators, with an estimated television audience of 20 million. – I guess if you ever watched the movie Seabiscuit you could’ve seen how the country was captivated by horse racing. The Big three of the time: Baseball, Racing, and Boxing was the time setting for the War Admiral / Seabiscuit backdrop. – This was 1975, and the times surely had changed. I’m sure that Ruffian had plenty of support from the ladies of the day as she was the equine equivalent to Billy Jean King ready to do battle with the opposite sex.


I guess I’m still holding out hope, but no matter how many times I’ve watched the race. When a horse breaks down my breath weighs heavy in my chest like an elephant having a seat. – I wasn’t there on this fateful day, and the details of the many brilliant veterinarians who tried in vain to save her, still brings tears to my eyes. – The Ruffian Equine Medical Center opened on May 26, 2009. It cost $18 million and is located outside Gate 8 of Belmont Park. Inside the facility, specialists work to solve problems before they become major issues, such as a colt showing lameness that can be diagnosed and cured before he makes the track, perhaps providing such an animal a chance to do his job and have a good life beyond the track. – As you look at the flag poles in the infield area, there is a true champion buried there with her nose pointed toward the finish line. It is hard to believe it’s been 40 years. It’s hard to believe that after her first year of life she had climbed the mountain to be one of the greatest horses to grace the oval. – As many in racing have told me, the game goes on. That is what it was meant to do. We’ll just wait with patience that the Racing Gods may send another glimpse of true racing greatness.