Ruthless and the Barbarous Battalion

Jan 13th 2012 11:30 am |

On Saturday, Aqueduct hosts the 34th running of The Ruthless for three-year-old fillies. The race is named for a filly who ran in the 1860s but didn’t find her rightful place in Racing’s Hall of Fame until 1975.

Ruthless entered my mind recently as I was reading through Walter Vosburgh’s Racing in America. Vosburgh called her “…far and away the greatest filly of the ‘sixties.'” She was bred and owned by Francis Morris. (His son, John A. Morris, founded New York’s Morris Park in 1889).  Ruthless won the first edition of the Belmont Stakes and fourth running of the Travers Stakes in 1867. That same year she “scared away” the competition and beat two colts in the two mile Sequel Stakes at Saratoga. Among the vanquished that day was Virgil who later sired three Kentucky Derby winners and the undefeated Hall of Famer Tremont.

Read the story of the 1867 Sequel Stakes at Saratoga in the New York Times archive

Ruthless was part of a great triumvirate of fillies that raced in the late 1860s, all out of the same dam. In Racing in America, Vosburgh wrote of the three fillies:

The triumphs of Ruthless, Relentless, and Remorseless led to their being known as ‘the Barbarous Battalion,’ suggested by the name of their dam Barbarity, and they certainly made the ‘scarlet’ jacket of Mr. [Francis] Morris a terror to trainers during 1867, 1868, and 1869. It is curious that the old mare Barbarity’s colts were all failures, although she had several, including Barbarian and Devastation. Her fillies were all famous, her later one, Regardless, foaled in 1871, [won] the Flash at two and the Alabama at three … Read more about Ruthless from Racing in America

I mentioned in my post earlier this week that most of the stories we hear about the early period of modern racing originated from the pages of Racing in America. I found further proof of this while reading an article by pedigree legend Leon Rasmussen from the Daily Racing Form archives. Throughout the piece, written in 1951, you’ll find that Mr. Rasmussen seems to have kept Vosburgh’s great work close at hand while writing about the history of racing.  Link to Leon Rasmussen’s piece about Ruthless

Our friend Teresa at Brooklyn Backstretch has written three excellent articles about Ruthless and the Barbarous Battalion that I encourage you to read.  Link to Ruthless/Barbarous Battalion articles at Brooklyn Backstretch

Thanks for reading!

Filed in horse racing history,Ruthless,The Barbarous Battalion,thoroughbred racing history

One Response to “Ruthless and the Barbarous Battalion”

  1. Good Morning to you, Funny thing to see your writing on “Ruthless” Has Iam putting together a book on fillys and mares of the past – Less they be forgotten – And I don’t want that to happen for so many good mares and fillys ran over the years.

    And I am at the moment writing on “Ruthless” Funny how things work out.. Liked the writing on her and I am still trying to find more interesting items on her to add to my book.

    Have a great day: my blog is on…

    Take care, Maggie