Artist: Fred Stone
Title: "For Only a Moment" Ruffian - Jacinto Vasquez up
Medium: limited edition print on paper
About the Artist
The best known painter of horses in the world today.
The Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune have called Fred Stone the most famous painter of horses in the world. His work is in the homes of some of the worlds most notable people including Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and in the office of the president in the White House.
He has been featured on ESPN and ABC, NBC and
Through his artwork, he has raised great sums
of money for various causes. More people own
a Fred Stone print than that of any other horse
artist in history, making him the most sought
after equine artist in the world.
She was called the fat yearling, the freak. The filly that "didnt want to run." Within one short year she would establish herself as one of the greatest racehorses to set foot on the track. She won her first ten starts with ease, the perfect champion. But she would never finish her 11th race. The flawless filly, the hometrack hero, would break down in the stretch during one of the most anticipated match races of all time, proving that only death could defeat Ruffian's great thoroughbred heart.
The almost black filly was foaled late on April night in 1972. The daughter of Shenanigans by Reviewer, she was one of the biggest foals on Claiborne Farm. She began her yearling training with Frank Whiteley and that was when her career took off. Her exercise riders were constantly being reprimanded to "hold her back with the group", but there was no holding Ruffian once she got onto that track. She knew she was a racehorse and she knew what her job was, what was in her pedigree and her heart.... to beat the others, to come in first, to win.
Ruffian's first race was May 22nd, 1974. People actually laughed her off, but those were the ones who hadn't seen her run yet. They said she was "just too fat", with her girth measuring 75 1/2 inches, and that they "werent throwing away perfectly good money". Wouldnt they be shocked to see her not only win, but completely dominate the field by crossing the wire 15 lengths in front while tying the track record for 5 1/2 furlongs, something no other 2 year old had ever done while breaking their maiden race! Not only that, but she did it with power and assurance, and pranced off the track like she wanted to do it all over again!
For the rest of her two year old season, Ruffian denied any challenger that tried to get their nose in front. She remained stunning, beautiful, perfect. She equaled track records, and she broke them. She also shattered the previous record for a 2 year old at 6 furlongs at Saratoga, going 1:08 3/5, faster than any of the greats of the past including Man o' War and Secretariet. Ruffian was also nicknamed a heartbreaker her first season, one of the toughest of all horses to beat, because she just didnt know how to lose. Some of her rivals that she sped away from so easily in the stretch were never quite the same afterwards. Her victories included the Fashion Stakes, the Astoria, the Sororiety, and the Spinaway. Her two year old season was shortened by a hairline fracture after only 5 starts, but her brilliance had won her the Eclipse Award for best two year old filly.
Ruffian's three year old season was as amazing as her previous one. Frank Whiteley started her off in an allowance race where she won by almost 5 lengths. Her next start was the Comely Stakes, where she won by 8. From there she went on to sweep New York Filly Triple Crown, consisting of the Acorn, the Mother Goose, and the Coaching Club American Oaks, becoming only the 4th filly to do so, while simultaneously setting a stakes record in the first two legs and tying the existing one in the third. Then the question was asked... could she beat the boys?
The great match race was set, it was to be Ruffian against the Derby winner of 1975, Foolish Pleasure. Both horses broke cleanly, with Foolish Pleasure a step in front, but it was only a matter of seconds before they were going head to head. Ruffian stuck her nose in front, the opening quarter was run in 22 1/5. At this time Ruffian started pulling away from Foolish Pleasure, first a head, then a neck, then by half a length. Suddenly, the jockeys heard a snapping sound. Then Foolish Pleasure was in front by a length, two, three.... the announcer called out with disbelief, "Ruffian has broken down!" but the great filly kept running. She ground her leg into the track but there was no stopping her. By the time she was pulled up, her hoof dangled uselessly and it was all anyone could do to get her off the track.
They operated on Ruffian all through the night but to no avail, she began running and ripped the cast off upon coming out of the anesthesia, causing further damage to her leg. The men and the vets around her had tried to perform a miracle surgery and it had only furthered her agony. Shortly after 2 am, Ruffian was put down, and she was free to run once more. She was buried around 9 pm that evening at belmont park, with her nose pointed towards the finish line. Hundreds showed up to pay their respects to the legendary filly. She had galloped into the hearts of people across the nation in only two short seasons and she would never be forgotten.
~Biography by Raelyn Mezger
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