Real-life horseman Sam Shepherd stars as trainer Frank Whitely in this based-on-fact movie of the life of the great racefilly Ruffian, who lies buried near the finish line at New York’s Belmont Park, only yards from where she broke down while on the lead in a match race against champion colt Foolish Pleasure thirty years ago.
Air time is 9 pm Eastern on ABC; check your local listings and have a box of tissues nearby. The DVD goes on sale next week and may include the excellent documentary on the making of the film, including lots of biomechanics and special effects related to the filly’s injury.
ALSO RECOMMENDED: Bill Nack’s new book, “Ruffian: A Racetrack Romance” goes on the shelf next to Jane Schwartz’s “Ruffian: Burning from the Start”. Nack is one of the main characters in the ESPN movie; the film is roughly based on his book. Nack was the only person I have heard about who was on the track with both Ruffian and Barbaro as they were loaded onto ambulances after breaking down. His description of the parallels between the two tragedies, 30 years apart, is compelling journalism worthy of accolades from all corners of the horse and publishing worlds.