Riva Ridge in the Hibiscus

Riva Ridge in the Hibiscus

Jim Raftery/ Turfotos

On This Day...

March 22, 1972
Riva Ridge at Hialeah

Something wasn't right in Florida in 1972. For the first time in history, Gulfstream Park held the premier middle dates. Hialeah, the traditional powerhouse, followed Gulfstream on the racing calendar.

But that didn't matter much to Riva Ridge. The champion 2-year-old male of the previous year got his first start of the year in the March 22 Hibiscus Stakes at Hialeah. The 3-5 favorite in the seven-furlong race, Riva Ridge won by 2 1/4 lengths over track-record holder New Prospect in 1:22 4/5 to extend his win streak to six.

Riva Ridge remained at Hialeah. In the Everglades Stakes, he encountered problems in the stretch and finished fourth over the sloppy surface. Taken to Keeneland, he won the Blue Grass Stakes by four lengths in his final Kentucky Derby prep.

The 3-2 Derby favorite, Riva Ridge took command soon after the start and won by 3 1/4 lengths over No Le Hace. He caught a sloppy surface in the Preakness and finished fourth, but rebounded to win the Belmont Stakes by seven lengths.