The saga of Ruffian and her ill-fated match race with Foolish Pleasure in 1975 will be featured on this week's segment of "Woodie's World" on ESPN Classic. The show is scheduled to air at 7 (EST) Thursday."Woodie's World" is an irreverent look at the America of the 1960's and '70's as seen by the late Heywood Hale Broun, a regular at CBS News for decades and the color commentator for the Triple Crown during the years before and after Secretariat's triumph. Thursday's program, titled "Women Pioneers," recounts how Ruffian became a part of the sexual revolution and a symbol for the women's movement when she challenged the Kentucky Derby winner in the biggest match race since Seabiscuit beat War Admiral. The match race, in which Ruffian broke her leg and had to be euthanized, was watched by an estimated 18-million television viewers.
In an interview just before his death, Broun recalled how difficult it was to do that telecast. "I think we were short of human heroes at that time," he said, "so we turned to the fabulous horse, to something which was so remarkable in her mixture of speed, power and beauty as to be a kind of icon. As a sporting tragedy, it is ahead of anything I can remember."