Ruffian (KY)

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.

Painting of Ruffian with Jacinto Vasquez up by Richard Stone Reeves
Inducted

1976

Foaled

1972

Sire

Reviewer

Dam

Shenanigans

Damsire

Native Dancer

Breeder

Mr. and Mrs.
Stuart S. Janney, Jr.

Owner

Locust Hill Farm

Trainer

Frank Whiteley, Jr.

Career

1974-1975

Earnings

$313,428

Racing Record

11

Starts

Year Starts First Second Third Earnings
Year Sts 1 2 3 $
1974 5 5 0 0 $134073 $134,073
1975 6 5 0 0 $179356 $179,356

Biography

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.

As a 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 5 1/2 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 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, consisting of the Acorn, Mother Goose, and Coaching Club American Oaks. Ruffian 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. Ruffian was slightly outbroken by Foolish Pleasure, 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. Ruffian took a bad step and her right front ankle was gashed open and both proximal sesamoid bones were broken.

Efforts to save Ruffian were unsuccessful. 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 was buried 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 the following year.   

Achievements

Eclipse Award Champion 2-Year-Old Filly — 1974
Eclipse Award Champion 3-Year-old Filly — 1975

Media

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