Maggie asked in PetsHorses · 9 years ago

Are match races in horse racing still allowed? You don't hear about them anymore?

And what modern day horses would you like to see run against each other? I wish Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta could have had a match race.


I love horse racing

Update 2:

Rachel had her first foal on the 22nd!!

5 Answers

  • 9 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    Match races are allowed, but no one wants to see them run any more, at least not very much. That's largely because of what happened the last time a major match race was run, which was most likely long before you were even born, sweetie. I remember THAT match race well, as does just about everyone of my generation, if they follow racing. That race took place at Belmont park in July of 1975. The two horses that ran in it were a colt named Foolish Pleasure, who'd won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness that year, and a filly named Ruffian, who had been undefeated in all her races at both 2 and 3 years of age and had also won the Triple Crown for fillies. Both horses were 3 years old at the time, and Ruffian was a huge filly who stood almost 7 feet tall at the withers. She was taller than Rachel Alexandra, and may have been taller than Zenyatta, although I can't be absolutely certain of this. She was dark brown, almost black in color, with a small star on her forehead. She came from the same family that produced Secretariat-her sire was Secretariat's half brother, Reviewer. Her dam was Shenanigans, a daughter of Native Dancer. Ruffian's opponent in the match race, Foolish Pleasure, was a son of What a Pleasure. What made that event so sad? In a nutshell, the two horses got along fine until they came to the half mile pole on the backstretch at Belmont. Ruffian had just moved in front of her rival, and was running at full speed, when suddenly there was a sound like a firecracker. Both jockeys heard it- it was that loud. A fraction of a second later, Ruffian stumbled and nearly fell, but managed to somehow get back to her feet. She kept running, only now she was running on 3 legs. Her right front leg had shattered at the ankle joint, which in horses is called the fetlock. She would continue to run that way for nearly a quarter mile more before her jockey finally managed to stop her and jump off her back. By that time, Ruffian's leg was a mess. The broken bones had pushed through the skin, and she was bleeding profusely and in shock. The outriders came to help immediately, and so did the track vet-and they managed to get the filly loaded into the horse ambulance and back to the barn. Ruffian underwent emergency surgery that same night at the hospital across from Belmont park, and the operation was actually successful. The real problem ( and tragedy) came when the filly woke up following surgery. She had a violent reaction while waking up, and thrashed around to the point where she broke the cast and tore her leg open again, thus completely undoing whatever good the surgery had done. Shortly afterwards, her trainer called her owners, who gave their consent to have her put down. She was buried in the infield at Belmont the following evening, and her grave marker is at the base of Belmont's flagpole there. Ruffian's human connections all paid a huge price for their involvement with her in the years that followed the match race- but none more so than her trainer, Frank Whiteley.

    People blamed Whiteley for the filly's death, and the tragedy haunted him for the rest of his career. That was because the final decision to let the filly run had been his and his alone. It turned out to be the biggest mistake of his life. Ruffian's other human connections also paid a price too, especially her groom, Dan Williams, who never recovered from the blow caused by the filly's death. Two years after she died, he died too- of acute alcoholic poisoning. As far as I know, only one of Ruffian's connections is still alive and involved in racing now, namely Barclay Tagg, who was Whiteley's assistant back then. Tagg is now a prominent trainer with his own barn. He's had some good horses over the last few decades, but I'm not sure that any of them ever approached the level of ability that Ruffian had. In many ways, that filly was a freak- but what happened to her pretty much has guaranteed that there will be no more match races any time soon. That's why there was never a match between Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra, in fact. Nobody in racing today wants to see a repeat of what happened in 1975. Even Jess Jackson and the Mosses ( who own the two mares I mentioned) aren't and weren't foolish enough to agree to something that might lead to a repeat of such a tragedy, no matter how eager they are for fame. Unlike Ruffian's owners, they have had the good sense not to allow their desire for fame to override their better judgment. As for Foolish Pleasure, he finally died from old age in 1994, following what can only be described as a rather mediocre career at stud. His human connections are no longer involved in racing, at least not to the degree they once were. So now you know the reason why there hasn't been another match race in recent decades, even though they remain legal and allowed.

    Source(s): I was 11 years old when I watched Ruffian's ill fated match race on TV. I still shudder when I think about that day- it was that horrible. I'm also a horse owner/professional and a long time follower of the sport of racing.
  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    Match races are still allowed, as far as I know. You'll probably never get to see a match race between Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta though, I believe both have been retired to popping out multimillion dollar foals that will either A. never step foot on the track to begin with because they're "worth so much money!" or B. suck at racing altogether.

  • Lilian
    Lv 6
    9 years ago

    I am sure a lot of the brush tracks in the western states will still have match races.

  • donald
    Lv 6
    9 years ago

    They are still allowed. You have to understand that horse racing is all about money and breeding anymore. Gone are the days when owners would brag about how much weight their horse was assigned or "My horse can beat your horse.". It is sad. But no owner will put up money and risk their horses reputation any more.

    Source(s): read my description.
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  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    Hmm, not sure. Not really a racing gal, more into dressage and jumping ;]

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