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It was 26 years ago on July 6, 1975, that the great filly Ruffian broke down in a match race against Kentucky Derby winner Foolish Pleasure. Until that point she was undefeated in 10 starts against the fillies, all of them wire to wire victories. She won at distances from 5 1/2 furlongs to 1 1/2 miles running away from her competition easily by as much as 15 lengths. No other filly could even come close to challenging her as she powered away from them with speed to spare. Her undoing was in a much publicized match race with Foolish Pleasure which was given much hype and was broadcast live on TV. I remember watching it in horror as she broke down after the first half mile and crying when they had to put her down the next day after a failed attempt to repair the broken ankle. She was something special and most who saw her will never forget her.

On the 25th anniversary of the match race, ESPN Classic broadcast a special about Ruffian which was the first time since it happened that a replay of the the race with footage of the breakdown and injury was shown. It featured her entire career including the match race and the efforts to save her and included interviews with many of the people involved. The program will air again on September 5th and 6th of 2001 on ESPN Classic so set your VCR if you missed it the first time!

  • September 5
    • Sportscenter Flashbacks: Ruffian, 7:00-8:00pm EDT, ESPN Classic

  • September 6
    • Sportscenter Flashbacks: Ruffian, 3:00-4:00am EDT, ESPN Classic
    • Sportscenter Flashbacks: Ruffian, 11:00am-12:00pm EDT, ESPN Classic

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