Riva Ridge (1969-1985) was a thoroughbred racehorse, the winner of the 1972 Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes. A son of First Landing out of Iberia (by Heliopolis), he was owned and bred by the Meadow Stable of Christopher Chenery. Secretariat, the U.S. Triple Crown champion in 1973, was bred and owned by the same stable.
Riva Ridge's name came from Chenery's son-in-law, John Tweedy, who was a soldier in World War II at the important strategic victory by the U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division on February 18, 1945 at Riva Ridge in the North Apennine mountains of Italy.
|Breeder||Meadow Stud, Inc.|
A winner of the Eclipse Award at age 2 and 4, Riva Ridge was ridden mainly by Hall of Fame jockey Ron Turcotte, who would also ride stablemate Secretariat. He did not run very well on a muddy track, and was upset in the Preakness Stakes, after rain made the going sloppy. In the 1-1/2 mile Belmont Stakes, Riva Ridge defeated nine other horses, running away to a seven-length victory.
At age 4, Riva Ridge won five of the nine races he entered, set track records four times, and equalled the 1-1/8 mile track record at Suffolk Downs in winning the Massachusetts Handicap. His winning time of 1:52-2/5 in the Brooklyn Handicap (raced that year at Aqueduct Racetrack) set a world record for 1-3/16 miles on dirt. His mark was equalled by Farma Way in 1991 at Pimlico Race Course. As of January 2008, their record still stands.
With much fanfare, the Phillip Morris company (manufacturer of Marlboro cigarettes) sponsored what was to be a matchrace 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) defeated Riva Ridge (ridden by Eddie Maple). During their careers, both horses wore the blue and white checks of Meadow Stable. In thirty lifetime starts Riva Ridge won 17 races, finished second three times and third once, with earnings of $1,111,497. He was elected to the American Racing Hall of Fame in 1998.
Riva Ridge was retired at the end of the 1973 racing season. He stood at stud at 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 #57.