“That feeling was fear: fear the filly was just too fast, that she couldn’t go on like this, that she would use herself too much. It was a fear that everyone on the backstretch understood. When a horse came along with speed like Ruffian’s, pure, effortless, unearthly speed, they asked themselves: Was it a gift from God, or a bargain with the Devil?”

Forty years ago, on this day, racing lost one of the brightest lights the sport would ever know. Perfect, 10 for 10. Dominant. Queenly. A model of equine perfection. Her only fault being that she was taken from us much, much too soon. I wonder all the time what all she would have accomplished had fate not taken this beautiful star. Ruffian, we remember you on this day, and always.