Jane Schwartz is the author of the novel Caught and the sports biography Ruffian: Burning from the Start. She has written for many publications, including The New York Times, Sports Illustrated, The Blood-Horse, and Daily Racing Form, where her column "Free Rein" appeared. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Ruffian was arguably the best thoroughbred filly that ever raced: the horse won all five of the events it entered as a two-year-old in 1973, frequently setting or tying track records, and duplicated that string of successes the following year, taking the filly triple crown. On July 6, 1975, Ruffian was entered in a match race against Kentucky Derby winner Foolish Pleasure; partway through the race Ruffian broke a front leg and, despite an operation, had to be destroyed. Schwartz ( Caught ) on occasion annoyingly anthropomorphizes the horse, as when she describes Ruffian as ``self-possessed, self-assured'' and, on the day of the fatal race, ``aware that something big was coming up.'' Despite this tendency, however, the book is a moving tribute to a great horse, and will leave a lump in the throat of devotees of the sport of kings. Photos. (Aug.)
"Compelling, informative, and ultimately touching. This is a
first-class book; Ruffian deserves no less."
-The Seattle Times "A COLORFUL STORY . . . Ruffian was nothing if not a heartbreaker. Her story, dramatically recounted by Jane Schwartz, epitomizes both the adrenaline-pumping glory and gut-wrenching ruthlessness inherent in the sport of horse racing."
-The Washington Post Book World "[AN] EXCEPTIONALLY FINE BOOK . . . The world of racing-the people, the smells, politics, emotion-is what the writer wants to show us. And show us she does, brilliantly."
"Jane Schwartz has written, with considerable grace and evident love, a superb, painstakingly researched portrait of this most remarkable of thoroughbred fillies."
-Los Angeles Times Book Review
Ruffian: the name stands out among a handful of great racehorses. Ruffian: the name conjures memories of a tough competitor, a tomboy. Ruffian: the name synonymous with the pinnacle of glory and the nadir of tragedy. Schwartz ( Caught , Ballantine, 1987) eloquently captures the spirit and style of this undefeated filly who beat all comers save death. In the 1975 match race against the colt Foolish Pleasure, viewed by a televised audience of 18 million, Ruffian broke down while leading and later had to be destroyed. Schwartz tells Ruffian's story from her birth, breaking, training, and racing, to the day of the ill-fated ``battle of the sexes'' through the eyes of her handlers, grooms, jockeys, and trainer. This is an exhilarating yet sad tale of the thrills and fears of horseracing. Highly recommended for most public libraries.-- Susan Hamburger, Virginia State Lib. & Archives, Richmond