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Saturday, June 09, 2007

The Final Hours of Ruffian: Bill Nack's Story Comes to Life

"I took off through the clubhouse and raced down the stairs and swept blindly past a guard and onto the crown of the track, where I heard a jockey screaming at me just before his muscular bay colt thundered past, nearly bowling me over as he came home alone in triumph past the finish line. I ran across the infield to where she had broken down and there he was, the man crouching under her, fumbling with the cast. Saw the ambulance rolling to a stop and saw the lifting of the screen as the filly stood there trembling and wide-eyed and scared, sweat pouring off her in the heat of that early Sunday evening: July 6, 1975. Went unwelcome to her burial at dusk the next night, on the infield at Belmont Park, and stood outside the small urn of light cast by the headlights from the truck that had borne her enshrouded remains from Doc Reed's hospital across the road."

Author Bill Nack takes you back 30 years to the glory and heartbreak of the great race filly Ruffian. His description of the last few hours of her life is shocking, raw, and disturbing. As it should be. This paragraph is just the beginning. I highly recommend that you read this book: "Ruffian: A Racetrack Romance" by William Nack, from ESPN Books, published last month. Please patronize your local independently-owned bookstore or ask Hoofcare Publishing to special-order it for you. Photo above: Ruffian in one of her many stakes victories, photo by New York Racing Association.