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Ruffian (2007)

A look at the life of the thoroughbred filly that dominated horse racing in the early 1970s.


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Credited cast:
... Frank Whiteley
... Bill Nack
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
... Mike Bell
... Female Sports Reporter #2
... Cassie
Barry Barton ... News Reporter
... Barbara Janney
... The Lout
John T. Billingsley ... News Camera Man
... Match Race Fan
Craig Clary ... Race Fan
... NYC TV Reporter
Mellinda Craig ... High Class Racetrack Patron
Kip Cummings ... Reporter / Race Fan
... Saratoga Race Fan


A look at the life of the thoroughbred filly that dominated horse racing in the early 1970s.

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Biography | Drama | Sport


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Release Date:

9 June 2007 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Ruffian - Die Wunderstute  »

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Technical Specs

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Did You Know?


Because Ruffian was such a large filly, larger even than many colts (including Foolish Pleasure), they used geldings to portray her in the film. See more »


The match race between Foolish Pleasure and Ruffian which provides the crisis of the movie takes place on July 6. 1975 in Elmont, New York. However, the foliage that consistently appears in the background is sparse, consistent with April for southern New York (or March in New Orleans where the movie was shot). See more »


Featured in 14th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards (2008) See more »

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User Reviews

The battle of the sexes turns tragic
25 September 2007 | by See all my reviews

The 1970s were the height of the battle of the sexes. Men and women were in open combat, anywhere and everywhere: tennis (Riggs vs. King), the voting booth (ERA), and, on July 6, 1975, Belmont Park, when the undefeated Ruffian was sent off at 1-20 odds (you had to lay 20-1 odds on her) to defeat the Kentucky Derby winner, Foolish Pleasure, mediocre in comparison to Ruffian.

Period pieces are not easy to shoot, since they are done from memory and historical records. I was alive and following the New York tracks as a youth, and became aware of Ruffian in the spring of 1975, after she had blazed her way onto the front pages as a legitimate Kentucky Derby threat. Today, she would have run for the roses without a second thought, but her owners were old-school and gave it not a second thought.

This film captures the phenomenon that was Ruffian, from promising ace-in-the-barn that her trainer knew would win her debut at 4-1, but not by 15 lengths in 1:09. No matter how good they look in training, you never know what's going to happen when they actually run. Ruffian answered every question asked of her, even winning when slightly injured, finding the heart to put away her strong-but-weaker peers.

Ruffian was a freight train, and while the details of the film were glossed over, this was a TV film and that is often the case. Watch "Babe Ruth" from 1991 (TV) and "The Babe" from 1992 (Feature Film) for simimlar disparity. Indeed, you could also read the "Seabiscuit" book from 1997, and find it much richer than its paperback predecessor, "Come On, Seabiscuit!" from 1975.

This was the discount version of the Ruffian story. The big-budget treatment she may one day get awaits.

Ruffian was the first horse ever buried in the infield at Belmont Park. That is how special she was. She died of a broken leg because horses like her cannot live even long enough to recover on one, as they are simply born to run, her like no other.

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