I really want to know... out of all the racehorses, what drew you to Ruffian? and not just that she was a girl or awesome, but what made you really fall for her.
It was a lot of things that drew me to Ruffian, but most of all was the fact that, even when she was injured, she refused to lose. She fought Jacinto for over a hundred yards after she broke down, hating the sight of the What a Pleasure-sired, Florida-bred colt pulling away from her.
My heart broke for her when I watched the video for the first time back when I was 13 (it’s been 5 years, my god.) and I realized then and there that this was a filly that I needed to fall in love with.
Not only that, but she had the grace, charisma and just the beauty that one could fall head over heels in love with. She was nicknamed “Sophie” around the barn by the stablehands because she was this really big filly and was just a super gentle, super nice horse that allowed her people to lounge with her, almost like a sofa, which gave her that nickname.
Ruffian was just a once in a lifetime horse. I really fell in love with the way she dominated her fields and refused to give in to every challenge. And though it appeared that she had a sprinter’s pedigree, she was indeed bred for speed and stamina. In her male line, she had Discovery, who proved to everyone that he had the heart of a champion and carried well over 140+ pounds in races that were longer than 12 furlongs (the distance of the Belmont Stakes). She just had the perfect pedigree that would have made even a rival owner jealous!
So to recap, Ruffian was just perfect in every way, except the rumors swirling around her that she had fragile bones. To be honest, I really don’t think she had fragile bones. Back then, in the early to mid-1970s, the Belmont Park sand-based track was really hard-packed and tough on horses and she wasn’t the only breakdown that decade. So I totally disagree with that claim that her sire/dam were carriers of weak-bones.