I want to commend your excellent, exciting article on the horseracing champion Ruffian in the September issue. I took my magazine to work and was reading Gene Smith’s story during my lunch hour. Fortunately for me, the door to my office was closed so no one could see the tears streaming down my face and the fourteen wadded tissues on my desk as I read about the spectacular life and tragedy of this magnificent animal.
Although I had heard the name Ruffian, I had never had the privilege of seeing her race, but through Gene Smith’s article I felt that I had at least glimpsed the beauty and ability of that electric young filly. As was alluded to in the article, it felt like reading about the fictional black stallion of Walter Farley. Ruffian’s tale was every bit as gripping, even down to the fabled “Great Match Race” between two horses. Like the fictional stallion, Ruffian ran with all the heart and fire of a champion even after serious injury. Unlike Farley’s happy ending, I was left with the sorrowful, empty feeling of wondering “What if …?” that seizes you when a life is cut down in its prime. But that feeling eventually diminishes, and then what’s left is the memory of the greatness and courage of Ruffian.
When I have a child of my own someday, I will sit down and together we will read The Black Stallion , and I will show pictures of Ruffian as a real-life example, because greatness and courage, whether in the human or the animal realm, should not be forgotten.