These are tributes to Ruffian from others.
Some brought tears to our eyes, some brought amazment.
We wanted to share them with others.
The auther's name we have placed above for
their credit. We thank them each for remembering Ruffian.
If you would like to add your own tribute for Ruffian
to this page, contact us.. ruffiansmail(at)gmail(dot)com
Upon approval we will add it ASAP. Thank you :)

Mark McTavish
Mark McTavish
Dark Lightening

Cary Robertson Jr.
Thoroughbred Record, 1975

        As though our dreams had the force of reality, we conceived her and then when she appeared took her for our own. We made her on massive proportions, the body of a stud, the legs of a water spider, so that no one would mistake her for ordinary. And we made her black as the crack of doom. We made her fast, speed on speed, so fast that distance would lose all meaning and time would take on meaning anew. We endowed her with a savagery which would drive her to fight pain and would humble her foes like serfs at the feet of a queen. And then we gave her to a man above whom no other could be more trusted to minister to her greatness and to preserve the sanctity of our dream. She gave us power because what we dreamt she performed, so we asked for more. Track records, stakes records. Why not a world record, a consummate feat which would prove us to be the supreme dreamers of all? We approved when the track was tempered like an anvil, a little help from man to fulfill her destiny. Her speed, her unearthly physical size, our vanity and finally her own savagery destroyed her. We live now with a busted dream, but the man in the pink shirt who made that lonesome trip to the far side of Belmont’s infield a Sunday ago lives with a real loss. We will dream again, but Frank Whiteley will never have another Ruffian.


Partion of Gene Smith's write-up in
American Heritage Magazine
September 1993 Volume 44, Issue 5

The next month, August, she went up to Saratoga for the
Spinaway Stakes. The main opposition would be Laughing Bridge,
who had won the track’s Schuylerville and Adirondack, victories
indicating that Saratoga very well suited Laughing Bridge. There
is a saying that there are horses for courses, for all tracks have
variants in soil and turns and length of the stretch, and there
was no certainty that Ruffian would feel at home at what horse
people call the Spa. The horses got off with Ruffian showing the
way and Laughing Bridge lying back in third. Vasquez, suspended
again, was on the ground, and Vince Bracciale was on board.
They went down the backstretch with Ruffian holding a three length
advantage as Bracciale almost strangled her to keep the speed down.
Yet she was setting blazing fractions. It seemed to William H. Rudy
of The Bloodhorse that she was, as he wrote, “almost loafing” but
that her ease of motion and beautiful stride masked her swiftness
"One was seeing something very rare."
Coming off the far turn, Laughing Bridge made her move and took
second place. Bracciale let the reins out a bit, and at once Ruffian
effortlessly shot forward. Laughing Bridge was being whipped and
driven, but Ruffian in leisured fashion widened her lead with every
step. Bracciale knew the race was won and that Frank Whiteley would
not want the filly needlessly extended, so he tried to slow her.
Through the stretch he steadily tightened up the reins and felt he’d
gotten her throttled down. She won by thirteen lengths. “Easily,” said
The Daily Racing Form. An outrider, one of the red-coated horsemen
patrolling the track, came up as Bracciale halted the horse to turn
her for the winner’s circle and asked the jockey how fast he thought
he’d gone. Bracciale supposed it was a minute and eleven seconds,
maybe ten and change. “I never really let her run, you know.”
Together they cantered back to the front of the grandstand, and Bracciale
looked over to the tote board in the infield where the time of the race
was up in lights. “That can’t be right,” Bracciale said to the outrider.
“You saw me, I was choking her for the last eighth. I was pulling her
up all the way home!

Linda Hopkins

Thank you for your email and I will tell you that it is
an honor to me to be on your wonderful web site.
All my love, and a lot of blood, sweat and tears went
into my writings.But there is nothing else I would rather
write about, and it gave me a sweet release. When I write
about Ruffian I feel as though she is with us still.

Excerpts from Linda Hopkins "Ruffian Diary"


Just, when the 7th decade of the 20th century had caught
it’s breath after a break-neck ride with Secretariat,
along came Ruffian, to make it inhale sharply and leave
it gasping again with, if anything, more wonder and delight
than even the red-chestnut stallion had brought. After
Secretariat blew us all away with his impossible Belmont win,
we thought we had seen the Alpha and Omega of Thoroughbreds-at
least for another century or so. Then in his wake pranced
Ruffian, a bold gleam in her eye and her perfect body buffed
to an ebony shine to blind any who would challenge her. She
shone as bright as any star, the mystical dust of the universe
swirling around and trailing her.


In the world of horse racing she was all things to all people.
If you wanted speed , she ran away from time , apparently
reeling off her ebony speed just to please her own self-no
competition was needed or, indeed, even expected. We’ll never
know how fast she really was. If you demanded stamina, she barely
broke a sweat at a mile and a half, zooming past the finish line
and then looking around for another such distance to go out
and conquer. And if it was beauty one demanded, well--she came
to the track already looking like a sculpture of herself,
already bronzed for the ages.

She was greatness in a way we had we had never before
seen personified in a race horse. It was almost -almost
beyond our comprehension. On the track the most beautiful
horses were not always the fastest, did not live up to their
images, and the most ungainly, sometimes downright ugly often
won. But with Ruffian the twain did meet and we, her
fans- really her lovers, could never accept anything less
after she was gone. She ruined us for the very
good, the merely great, for the almost perfect.


She came into this world knowing she was here for one
purpose only-to run and run faster than any before her, to
fulfill the fantasy of all racing fans-the perfect race horse,
the sure thing. She did not teach in parables-she taught
in fractions, reeling off her nonchalant elevens with the
regularity of a coal black metronome.

But she died, long before she should have and would never
be returned to us, not in this or any other lifetime. So we
gently lifted that ruined body, and gave her, whole and
vibrant, to our dreams once more. And there in pastures
that restore the mind, her coat shining like a crow’s wing,
she will remain.


In my more my wildly imaginative moments I like to think
that Keats wrote this just for Ruffian. If this doesn't describe
the memories she left us, then nothing ever can.

A thing of beauty is a joy forever:
It's loveliness increases, it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
a bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams.


Some WONDERFUL Poems from
Lyn Lifshin's book
"The Licorice Daughter: My Year with Ruffian"

I hope you can use any of my Ruffian poems from
Lyn Lifshin


Today the barn
isn't a place
but the ghost
of a summer.
Today it dissolves
as if fire reached
thru it turning
familiar to ash.
The horses'
shrieks are flames
catching from
stall to stall.
The foals don't
want to leave
their mothers.
Terror blazes.
Mist over the
blue pond, a
smoke everything
ahead blurs in

would I have fed you
apples in December,

a weanling's last gift?
And would you have tilted

your head back, whinnied
as the shadows got colder

and the bits of pink
from your jaws,

the only color


too beautiful, too thin
gave her perfect
conformation. I think of

Ruffian's jockey,
balancing as if his toes

were a see saw.
Taste of the horse's neck.

I imagine the stable hands
brushing Ruffian, her

hair in a brush would be
an Ebay relic now


lying quietly all night
as if she knew, for the moment,
her body was her friend

A star on her forehead,
a star inside her blood

Herons in the distance,
gulls. Her star,

color of the
floating lily


riders with a sense of
pace were fooled.
She was like a dancer
with ballon, hanging
in the air, suspended.
If you were on her,
you thought the
clockers were wrong.
Sometimes it seemed
she wasn't running,
never came back
winded. Those long
legs seemed too
long for a real horse.
Someone said it
was as if she hung
there and the ground
rushed under her


in her 12 by 12 foot stall
24 hours a day, Ruffian
nibbled playfully at
stable hands. A little
edgy. A little ready.
A race for horses who've
never won, her new jockey
took her out early,
could barely tighten the
reins. When asked, What
do you think? jockey
Jacinto Vasquez said I
never rode a horse like
this. She know what she's
doing. She wants to run
and I want to ride her