Riva Ridge

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Riva Ridge
Sire First Landing
Grandsire Turn-To
Dam Iberia
Damsire Heliopolis
Sex Stallion
Foaled 1969
Country United States
Colour Bay
Breeder Meadow Stud, Inc.[1]
Owner Meadow Stable
Trainer Lucien Laurin
Record 30:17-3-1
Earnings $1,111,347
Major wins

Champagne Stakes (1971)
Futurity Stakes (1971)
Laurel Futurity (1971)
Flash Stakes (1971)
Garden State Futurity (1971)
Blue Grass Stakes (1972)
Hollywood Derby (1972)
Brooklyn Handicap (1973)
Massachusetts Handicap (1973)
Stuyvesant Handicap (1973)

Triple Crown race wins:
Kentucky Derby (1972)
Belmont Stakes (1972)
U.S. Champion 2-Yr-Old (1971)
U.S. Champion Older Horse (1973)
United States Racing Hall of Fame (1998)
#57 - Top 100 U.S. Racehorses of the 20th Century
Riva Ridge Stakes at Belmont Park
Last updated on January 24, 2008

Riva Ridge (April 13, 1969 – April 21, 1985) was a Thoroughbred racehorse, the winner of the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes in 1972.[2]


A son of First Landing out of Iberia (by Heliopolis),[3] he was owned and bred by the Meadow Stable of Christopher Chenery. Secretariat, the Triple Crown champion in 1973, was owned and bred by the same stable.[4]

Riva Ridge's name came from Chenery's son-in-law, John Tweedy,[5] who was a soldier in World War II at the important strategic victory by the U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division in 1945 at Riva Ridge on February 18 in the North Apennine mountains of Italy.[6][7]

Racing career[edit]

A winner of the Eclipse Award at age two and four, Riva Ridge was ridden mainly by Hall of Fame jockey Ron Turcotte, who rode stablemate Secretariat a year later. After his win as the 9:5 favorite[8] at the Kentucky Derby,[9] many expected Riva Ridge to win the elusive Triple Crown. Although a 1:5 odds-on favorite at Pimlico in Baltimore, the Preakness was his first race in wet conditions and he finished fourth, after rain made the going sloppy.[10][11] In the 1½-mile (2.4 km) Belmont Stakes, Riva Ridge defeated nine other horses with a seven-length victory.[12]

At age four, Riva Ridge won five of the nine races he entered, set track records four times, and equaled the 118-mile track record at Suffolk Downs in winning the Massachusetts Handicap. His winning time of 1:5225 in the Brooklyn Handicap (raced that year at Aqueduct Racetrack) set a world record for 1316 miles on the dirt.[13] His mark was equalled by Farma Way in 1991 at Pimlico Race Course. As of January 2008, their record still stands.[14]

With much fanfare, the Philip Morris company (manufacturer of Marlboro cigarettes) sponsored what was to be a match race with stablemate Secretariat. After both horses were beaten in preparatory races for the match, it was changed to an invitational race which brought together top horses three years old and up. In record time, Secretariat (ridden by Turcotte) finished first and Riva Ridge (ridden by Eddie Maple) finished second. During their careers, both horses wore the blue and white checks of Meadow Stable. In 30 lifetime starts, Riva Ridge won 17 races, finished second three times and third once, with earnings of $1,111,497.

Stud career[edit]

Riva Ridge was retired at the end of the 1973 racing season. He stood at stud on Claiborne Farm in Kentucky for his entire breeding career until he died at age 16 of a heart attack on April 21, 1985.


In the top 100 U.S. Thoroughbred champions of the 20th century, Riva Ridge was ranked No. 57. He was elected to the American Racing Hall of Fame in 1998.


Pedigree of Riva Ridge
First Landing
Turn-To Royal Charger Nearco
Sun Princess
Source Sucree Admiral Drake
Hildene Bubbling Over North Star
Beaming Beauty
Fancy Racket Wrack
Ultimate Fancy
Heliopolis Hyperion Gainsborough
Drift Swynford
Santa Cruz
War East Easton Dark Legend
Warrior Lass Man o' War

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Buttram, Bill (May 19, 1972). "Meadow Stud: Riva Ridge lived here". Free Lance-Star. Fredericksburg, Virginia. p. 6. 
  2. ^ "Hollywood Unnecessarily Embellishes the Real Tale of Secretariat". AOL.Original. Retrieved 2012-05-24. 
  3. ^ [1] Riva Ridge's five-generation pedigree and race record. Retrieved February 18, 2011.
  4. ^ "Hollywood Unnecessarily Embellishes the Real Tale of Secretariat". AOL.Original. Retrieved 2012-05-24. 
  5. ^ Strine, Gerald (May 7, 1972). "Riva Ridge captures Derby". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Florida. (Washington Post / Los Angeles Times). p. !C. 
  6. ^ Rice, Bill (February 17, 1995). "WWII ski heroes to re-enact historic climb". The Daily Gazette. Schenectady, New York. p. C5. 
  7. ^ Foster, J. Todd (March 3, 1995). "Making up for lost climb". Spokesman-Review. p. B1. 
  8. ^ "Riva Ridge favorite for Kentucky Derby". Wilington Morning Star. North Carolina. UPI. May 6, 1972. p. 20. 
  9. ^ "Riva Ridge winner with ease in Derby". Toledo Blade. Ohio. Associated Press. May 7, 1972. p. E1. 
  10. ^ "Bee Bee Bee wins Preakness". Toledo Blade. Ohio. Associated Press. May 21, 1972. p. E1. 
  11. ^ "Bee Bee Bee wins Preakness Stakes". The Sunday Star-News. Wilmington, North Carolina. UPI. May 21, 1972. p. 1C. 
  12. ^ "Riva Ridge back to Derby form to win Belmont by seven lengths". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. Associated Press. June 11, 1972. p. 1. 
  13. ^ [2] Racing Hall of Fame. Retrieved February 18, 2011.
  14. ^ [3] Race records. Retrieved February 18, 2011.

External links[edit]