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The Great Racehorse Ruhlmann, Dead at 23

GEORGETOWN, KY—DECEMBER 26, 2008— Ruhlmann, the eight-time stakes winning stallion and winner of the 1990 Santa Anita Derby, died on Christmas Eve. He was 23. The news was announced today by a saddened Michael Blowen, founder and president of Old Friends, the Thoroughbred Retirement Facility in Georgetown, KY, where the distinguished stallion had been pensioned since 2004.

Ruhlmann was found just shortly after being brought up from his paddock for the night. Veterinarian Dr. Doug Byars arrived within minutes, and, judging by the virtually undisturbed nature of his stall, concluded that the horse died instantly, most likely from an aneurysm. A full autopsy report is pending.

Ruhlmann (Mr. Leader—Indian Maiden by Chieftain) was owned and campaigned by Jerry and Ann Moss of California, who donated the horse to Old Friends in 2004 under an endowment. The following spring, the Mosses went on to win the 2005 Kentucky Derby with their colt Giacomo and most recently won the 2008 Breeder’s Cup Ladies Classic with the undefeated Zenyatta.

In his heyday, the jet black Ruhlman defeated some of the best horses of his generation, including Easy Goer and Sunday Silence. In all he captured 9 of his 22 starts, eight of them graded stakes. 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 vanquished the favorite, Bayakoa, as well as Criminal Type, 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 and beating him out of horse of the year honors by a mere nose.

“I’m devoted to all of our retirees, but Ruhlmann has always had a very special place in my heart,” said Blowen. “He will be sorely missed by all of us at Old Friends and by his many fans and admirers who visited him often.

“We’re deeply grateful to Jerry and Ann Moss and Dottie and David Ingordo for trusting us with their amazing athlete," continued Blowen. “Ruhlmann was, after all, the first Thoroughbred donated to Old Friends by his owners and it sent the message to the rest of the racing world that we were okay, They have subsequently sent us Kudos, who‘s been doing great.”

Plans for his Ruhlmann's burial and memorial service will be announced next week.

Old Friends, the Thoroughbred Retirement Facility in Georgetown, KY, is currently home to nearly 30 retired racehorses, including such champions as Sunshine Forever, Ogygian, The Wicked North, and Fortunate Prospect. For more information contact Michael Blowen at (859) 509-4814, or email michael@oldfriendsequine.org .


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