Buffle, one of the nation's finest Thoroughbreds, died late Tuesday at Belmont Park. The three-year-old colt, generally regarded as second only to mighty Buckpasser, had been suffering since last Thursday of a mysterious brain ailment which paralyzed his face muscles and prevented him from eating.
He had been scheduled to race against Buckpasser in yesterday's Lawrence Realization at Aquaduct. Although Buffle was never able to beat Buckpasser -- unbeaten in his last eleven starts -- he was always close enough to share he glory, and managed impressive victories of his own whenever Buckpasser wasn't using the same track.
Such an occasion was last month's New Hampshire Sweepstakes Classic, in which Buffle scored a mild upset by beating Jolly Jet and Amberoid to capture the world's richest three-year-old contest. He won four of his fifteen races, and his lifetime earnings totalled $360,000.
His last race was the Woodward Stakes on October 1, in which he finished third to Buckpasser and Royal Gunner, beating last year's divisional champion Tom Rolfe by five lengths.
Max Hirsch, Buffle's trainer for the King Ranch, announced yesterday that the horse's body was being sent to the University of Pennsylvania for an autopsy.