One of the most brilliant fillies of the 20th century, RUFFIAN was a two-time Eclipse Award winner and undefeated in 10 career starts until tragically breaking down in a match race with Kentucky Derby winner FOOLISH PLEASURE.
In 1974, 2-year-old RUFFIAN won all five of her races. After breaking her maiden with a 15-length win in her career debut, Ruffian equaled the Belmont Park track record for 5½ furlongs when she won the Fashion Stakes in 1:03. In succession, she then won the Astoria by nine lengths, the Sorority by 2¼ and the Spinaway by 12¾. A hairline fracture to her right hind ankle in the Spinaway kept RUFFIAN away from the races for the remainder of the year, but her spectacular achievements were rewarded with the Eclipse Award for Champion 2-Year-Old Filly.
Trainer Frank Whiteley, Jr. brought RUFFIAN back to the races on April 14, 1975 at Aqueduct Park and the champion filly didn’t miss a beat, winning an allowance by 4¾ lengths. She then romped by 7¾ lengths in the Comely before taking aim at the New York Filly Triple Crown: the Acorn, Mother Goose and Coaching Club American Oaks. She continued to demonstrate her rare abilities in the prestigious series, winning the Acorn by 8¼, the Mother Goose by 3½ and the Coaching Club American Oaks by 2¾.
Having no legitimate competition among the fillies of her generation, RUFFIAN met Kentucky Derby winner FOOLISH PLEASURE in a match race on July 6, 1975 at Belmont Park. She was beaten out of the gate by her opponent, but the filly quickly made up for it after a blazing first quarter-mile in :22⅕. They went stride for stride for a while before RUFFIAN began to edge away. Then tragedy struck. She took a bad step and her right front ankle was gashed open and both proximal sesamoid bones were shattered.
Efforts to save RUFFIAN were futile. Surgery was performed, but the shock and stress of the injury caused her to become violent in her recovery stall and the decision was made to euthanize the great filly.
RUFFIAN is buried (with her nose toward the finish line) in the Belmont Park infield. She posthumously received the Eclipse Award for Champion 3-Year-Old Filly and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1976.
The Daily Racing Blog recognizes, and salutes RUFFIAN as one of the greatest fillys of All Time.