RUHLMANN 1985-2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Rick Capone 11/1/08


1985, drkb/b h,
by Mr Leader—Indian Maiden by Chieftain
Trained by Robert Frankel and Charles Whittingham
Lifetime:Starts 22; Wins 9

On Christmas Eve, just after 4 in the afternoon, Ruhlmann died. It was just two days after he celebrated four years at Old Friends. Alberto brought him up from his paddock to his stall and left to clean another stall in the other barn. When he returned, 15 minutes later, Ruhlmann was dead. Dr. Byars arrived within ten minutes and explained that Ruhlmann died of a rupture and, judging by the virtually undisturbed nature of his stall, concluded that Ruhlmann died instantly.

I really like all of our retirees but each one of us at Old Friends develop special bonds with particular athletes...Diane loves Creator; Tom dotes on Swan's Way, Beth adores Ogygian, Janet has a soft spot for Mighty Mecke and Fortunate Prospect, Mercer is partial to Awad and Kudos and Ruthann loves Popcorn Deelites and Special Ring. Sylvia's really attached to Bull inthe Heather. Wallenda gave his favorite human, Val a Christmas gift. And I had two: Sunshine Forever and Ruhlmann.

The 23-year-old son of Mr. Leader was considered by some to be a very mean horse. Apparently, in his racing and breeding days he took exception to being bossed around. But, when he moved to Old Friends and became the boss, his whole attitude changed. Now, don't get me wrong, he was never cuddly and sweet like The Wicked North. But, if you did what he wanted when he wanted it, he'd let you pet him and even kiss him on the nose. It was that same intensity that he brought to his race track game that made him so appealing. He didn't suffer fools gladly and, unfortunately, I fit into that category. Until he taught me what he liked and what he didn't. He didn't like the shank over his nose but he'd be very cooperative with just a lead rope. It's curious how things work out. The things that come to mind during tough times. On Christmas Eve morning, Ruhlmann was staring at me over his fence. I knew he wanted extra carrots. I didn't really want to go back to the house but there was something in his expression that made his request irresistable. Of course, he got his carrots. And, as always, I was glad I listened to him.

We're deeply grateful to Jerry and Ann Moss and Dottie and David Ingordo for trusting us with their amazing athlete. Ruhlmann was, after all, the first Thoroughbred donated to Old Friends by his owners and it sent the message that we were okay to the rest of the racing world. They also sent us Kudos.

We're looking forward to Clever Allemont's imminent arrival from Kansas. And we are very grateful for all of our current and future retirees. But, for me, there'll only be one Ruhlmann. And I'm eternally grateful to him for that.



History:  An eight-time stakes winner, Ruhlmann defeated some of the best horses of his generation, including Easy Goer and the great Sunday Silence. He began his career in France, but soon returned to California where his promising 3-year-old campaign included wins in 1989's San Bernardino Handicap and the Native Diver Handicap. The colt's most stunning victory, however, may well have been 1990's $1 million Santa Anita Handicap with jockey Gary Stevens aboard. In the Big 'Cap, Ruhlmann beat the favorite, champion race mare Bayakoa, as well as Criminal Type (the eventual Horse of the Year), who would later become his turf rival. The two faced off for track supremacy five more times that year, with Type besting Ruhlmann 3-2. The duo was nearly reunited right here at Old Friends, but sadly, Criminal Type died before he could be returned from Japan.

His original owners, Jerry and Ann Moss donated Ruhlmann to Old Friends in 2005 under an endowment. It was a fitting retirement, as the near-black stallion was conceived at Hurstland Farm in Midway over 20 years ago. The Moss' good deed was not overlooked. Just two days after coming to visit their former champion, they won the 131st running of the Kentucky Derby with their new champion, Giacomo.


  • Trained by Robert Frankel and Charles Whittingham
  • 27 Starts, 10 Wins, 3 Places, 4 Shows - Career Earnings: $1,824,353
  • WON: Mervyn LeRoy Handicap (G1), Santa Anita Handicap (G1), Jamaica Handicap (G2), San Bernadino Handicap (G2), El Camino Real Derby (G3), Native Diver Handicap (G3), Viking Spirit S. (NTR-1mi. in 1:33 3/5); 2nd: Pimlico Special; 3rd; San Antonio Handicap, Bel Air Handicap, Del Mar Breeders Cup S.
  • Set Track Record at Santa Anita - 1:33.4, Mar 5, 1989, 1 mile on dirt, (still stands)