DescriptionRichard Stone Reeves (American, 1919-2005)
Oil on board
13 x 16 inches (33.0 x 40.6 cm)
Signed lower right: Richard Stone Reeves
Titled lower left: Ruffian
Commemorated in the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, Saratoga Springs, New York, as one of the top racehorses of the twentieth century, Ruffian stands apart for her tragic death as much as for her meteoric rise to champion status. She was bred from sire Reviewer and dam Shenanigans by Stuart and Barbara Janney of Locust Hill Farm in Maryland and foaled in 1972 at the established Claiborne Farm in Kentucky. The power combination behind Ruffian's success also included the noted Maryland trainer Frank Y. Whiteley, Jr., and the Panamanian jockey Jacinto Vasquez, rider of the Kentucky Derby winner Foolish Pleasure and the only jockey to defeat the Triple-Crown winner Secretariat.
A beautiful, but wide-girthed dark bay horse, Ruffian surprised her detractors by winning all ten of her first races -- and by huge margins, averaging over eight lengths -- quickly earning the titles "Queen of the Fillies" and "Heartbreaker." Undefeated as a two-year-old, she destroyed her competition by fifteen lengths in her maiden race and went on to dominate at the Fashion, Astoria, Spinaway, and Sorority Stakes of 1974, a stunning achievement, which garnered her an Eclipse Award in the category of U.S. Champion Two-Year-Old-Filly. Her third year was even more spectacular, as she shattered records at the Comely Stakes and at the fourth New York Triple Tiara, or "Triple Crown" for three-year-olds, consisting of the Acorn Stakes, the Mother Goose Stakes, and the Coaching Club American Oaks. Her Triple Tiara victory secured her another Eclipse Award and prompted her coaching team to race her against her male counterpart, the 1975 Kentucky Derby winner, Foolish Pleasure.
This "Great Match" between Foolish Pleasure and Ruffian, held at Belmont Park on July 6, 1975, would prove to be Ruffian's eleventh and final race. Although Jacinto Vasquez had also ridden Foolish Pleasure in his Kentucky Derby win, the jockey opted to ride the steadfast filly Ruffian, convinced she was the better horse. 50,000 spectators and a TV audience of twenty million watched in horror as Ruffian, ahead at the first quarter-mile, suddenly broke both bones in her right foreleg and continued to run to the bitter end. Following a three-hour emergency operation, Ruffian awoke from anesthesia and thrashed about so crazily in her paddock, that she further damaged her body and had to be euthanized. Her death triggered reforms in post-operative care for horses, in particular recovery pools and better pain medication, and an end to "match racing" in the U.S.
Aside from light frame wear with a few small accretions, work remains in good condition; under UV exam, there does not appear to be any previous restoration. Framed Dimensions 18.5 X 21.5 Inches
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