AFFIRMED and ALYDAR (SportsCentury) w/BONUS FOOTAGE
AFFIRMED was put down on January 12, 2001, from complications of laminitis at the age of 26. ALYDAR, the measuring stick of AFFIRMED's greatness, died much earlier in November of 1990 after breaking his leg in his stall. Though both are gone, AFFIRMED and ALYDAR still represent the best of emotion and drama that gives racing such an addictive flavor. They faced each other ten times over fifteen months; the rivalry was so fierce that its heat radiated well beyond the racing world...but nowhere did it stir deeper passions than in the barns and paddocks where the two trainers engaged in a widely publicized, "mano a mano". LAZ BARRERA (AFFIRMED) and JOHN VEITCH (ALYDAR) were putting their macho on the line whenever both horses ran. "All of the races I wanted to win, LAZ wanted to win with AFFIRMED...we weren't gonna back down from him and he certainly wasn't gonna avoid us", VEITCH said. For VEITCH, the dual was about something deeper than a trainer's bragging rights - he represented Calumet Farm...a stable with a cherished name proud and rich in tradition. ALYDAR was a son of RAISE A NATIVE out of SWEET TOOTH and was bred on racing's most hallowed ground where past generations of Thoroughbred greatness whispered on the Kentucky wind...a force so powerful in its heyday that no stable could match its record in the Kentucky Derby...seven in all with two Triple Crown winners. Although they were well seasoned in "the Sport of Kings", AFFIRMED's owners, PATRICE and LOUIS WOLFSON, were regarded as somewhat less than royalty; they weren't blue-blood Kentuckians for generations on end but they were solid. PATRICE WOLFSON, associated with horses her whole life, was the daughter of the late HIRSCH JACOBS, a Hall of Fame trainer. AFFIRMED bred and owned by the WOLFSON's Harborview Farm was a champion all three years that he raced. In 1977, the Florida-bred son of EXCLUSIVE NATIVE was the best two-year-old colt in the land with a record of seven victories and two seconds from nine starts. He met ALYDAR in six of those races and beat him four times. If racing fans expected the rivalry to resume that Winter, they would have to wait as LAZ BARRERA sent AFFIRMED out West to Santa Anita and JOHN VEITCH employed the more conventional Florida-Kentucky route for ALYDAR to prepare for their three-year-old season and their ultimate assault on the Triple Crown.
AFFIRMED was the more precocious two-year-old...he had more early speed and was more of a professional race horse. The people thought that with time ALYDAR would catch up to that. ALYDAR blossomed and was undefeated during the Winter of 1978...he was bigger, better, stronger and tougher going into his three-year-old season and was the favorite going into the Triple Crown series, particularly among the Blue Grass State locals after his three brilliant victories in the Flamingo Stakes, Florida Derby and Blue Grass Stakes. Old Kentucky hardboots tend to favor their own, especially at Derby time. AFFIRMED wasted no time out West taking an allowance race, the San Felipe Handicap, the Santa Anita Derby and culminated his stay in California with a victory in the Hollywood Derby. The events could not have worked out better as the build-up for the next AFFIRMED/ALYDAR meeting in the Kentucky Derby was reaching maddening proportions. The first Saturday in May, 1978, was a day of great anticipation; AFFIRMED was tuned up to a concert pitch of fitness - his rather narrow frame finely muscled...his weight perfect. ALYDAR was the 6-5 favorite with AFFIRMED second choice at 9-5...others in the star-studded field included BELIEVE IT and SENSITIVE PRINCE. With SENSITIVE PRINCE setting a scorching pace, AFFIRMED settled in third while ALYDAR trailed the field by 17 lengths...down the stretch AFFIRMED disposed of BELIEVE IT and opened a decisive lead at the furlong pole...ALYDAR closed gamely in the middle of the track but couldn't catch AFFIRMED who hit the wire 1-1/2 lengths in front of him.
The next two legs of the Triple Crown produced two thrilling battles and coming into the Preakness, AFFIRMED was still at the top of his form. ALYDAR again drew close at the head of the stretch but AFFIRMED would not give up the lead - three times the Calumet horse tried and three times AFFIRMED resisted him - the final margin was by a neck. Three weeks later AFFIRMED proved in the Belmont that if ever there was something he would respond to it was being looked in the eye, especially by ALYDAR. Everyone at Belmont on that beautiful June day seemed to sense that this Belmont Stakes was going to be a struggle of historic significance. For the final mile of his grueling race, AFFIRMED and ALYDAR were flat out, neck and neck, stride for stride; the race had turned into a speed dual - the race everyone expected. Being the gutsy horse that he was, AFFIRMED never let ALYDAR get by and desperately hung on to win by a head...racing's 11th Triple Crown winner.
The tenth meeting between the seasoned rivals took place at historic Saratoga in the Travers Stakes but it did not prove to be quite the epic everyone envisioned. AFFIRMED won the race but the victory was short-lived as the stewards, after reviewing the films, disqualified AFFIRMED and placed ALYDAR first. It was the last time the two colts would ever meet again on the track.
After suffering an injury in July, 1979, ALYDAR was retired to Calumet - his racing days were over but his illustrious stud career was just beginning. AFFIRMED, after going through some lean months with Jockey, STEVE CAUTHEN, finally came out of his slump in 1979 to score some of his most brilliant victories under LAFFIT PINCAY, JR. Winning his last seven races, AFFIRMED retired on top in 1979 but the future belonged to ALYDAR; though AFFIRMED had his number on the race track, ALYDAR outdid his nemesis at stud. For that matter, ALYDAR outdid most stallions as he ranked North America's second leading sire for four straight years (1986-1989) before gaining the top spot in 1990.
After all the miles AFFIRMED and ALYDAR traveled to go through the entire Triple Crown in this heated intense rivalry...it's ironic that the two would wind up together again - this time in the same stallion barn...stalls next to each other's...what are the chances!! After ALYDAR had already established himself at stud, AFFIRMED is moved from Spendthrift to Calumet to stand at stud...see priceless footage of both horses watching each other from adjoining paddocks and AFFIRMED being lead off of a van upon his arrival at Calumet while ALYDAR is shown creating a ruckus in his stall sensing his old rival's intrusion on his turf...the nerve!
AFFIRMED was a very useful stallion but ALYDAR won the last heat as he was the best stallion...his progeny reads like a, "Who's Who" of racing. He sired 76 stakes winners including two Kentucky Derby winners (ALYSHEBA in 1987 and STRIKE THE GOLD in 1991), two Horses of the Year: ALYSHEBA in 1988 and CRIMINAL TYPE in 1990, EASY GOER - Champion Two-Year-Old in 1988, TURKOMAN - Champion Older Male in 1986 and ALTHEA - Champion Two-Year-Old Filly for 1983. ALYDAR represented the culmination of everything that was good about Calumet Farm and everything it meant to racing as an American institution.
Unfortunately, ALYDAR, the prize stallion and cornerstone of Calumet died on November 15, 1990, two days after breaking his right hind leg in a freak accident late at night in his stall - a mystery as to what really happened to this day. Many people will never forget ALYDAR - he couldn't beat AFFIRMED but he never quit trying every step of the way. If he had won every race he ever ran in, he couldn't have meant more to racing.
While ALYDAR's death continued to be investigated, the gracious AFFIRMED lived in relative obscurity at Jonabell Farm until January 12, 2001, when the racing world lost a piece of its heart...AFFIRMED was gone at the age of 26-years-old. He was put down following months of musculoskeletal leg problems. AFFIRMED...Champion at two, three and four-years-old; Horse of the Year in both 1978 and 1979; raced 29 times winning 22 races with total world-record earnings of $2,393,818. His 14 Grade I victories took him from coast to coast. He ran his heart out for three years as he was never out of training and never had a break - he ran in races of the very highest class. At age four, AFFIRMED scaled even greater heights and conquered loftier peaks...his reputation was put in the hands of the handicappers...he carried weight...gave it away and still won. He faced some of the most grueling battles ever witnessed on the American turf with utmost bravery and resolution and he had a great and worthy rival in ALYDAR to really make him raise the bar higher and higher every time they came together.
It was the greatest match up in racing history...you think of WHIRLAWAY and ALSAB...DR. FAGER and DAMASCUS...but after ten majestic duels AFFIRMED and ALYDAR will forever be at the head of the class. Forever linked by their stout hearts and indomitable spirit, AFFIRMED and ALYDAR will never die...they live on in memories and in their legacies.
AS AN ADDED BONUS...Several priceless segments and stories of AFFIRMED and ALYDAR are added after the end of the main feature...ENJOY!!
1) The racing world is dealt a devastating blow with news of AFFIRMED's death at 25-years-old of laminitis in January, 2001 (ESPN's "Horse Racing Digest)
2) Santa Anita Park tribute to AFFIRMED
3) ESPN segment, "Tribute to Those We Lost"; shows a lengthy list of those the racing world lost during 2001
4) Horse racing channel, TVG's lengthy feature on Steve Cauthen from 2003
5) Extremely rare stallion commercial of AFFIRMED when he stood at Calumet Farm
6) Segment on ALYDAR's trainer, John Veitch, from ESPN's segment, "Where Are They Now?"
7) AFFIRMED and ALYDAR's 30-year Triple Crown anniversary (ESPN)
8) Horse racing channel, HRTV's "Inside Information" series with a segment on AFFIRMED in time for his 30-year Triple Crown milestone
9) Steve Cauthen segment as he is interviewed by Laffit Pincay III on HRTV during the week of the 2008 Belmont Stakes as BIG BROWN attempts to sweep the Triple Crown
10) Horse racing channel TVG lengthy segment of AFFIRMED and ALYDAR in 1978 as John Veitch and Steve Cauthen re-live all the wonderful memories
11) Defunct New York, "Thoroughbred World" segment hosted by long-time NYRA race announcer Tom Durkin looks back at the 1978 Belmont in observance of the 15th Anniversary of AFFIRMED and ALYDAR's Triple Crown rivalry. Trainer John Veitch re-tells his last-minute change of strategy going into the Belmont with ALYDAR and Steve Cauthen is shown reunited with AFFIRMED at Jonnabell Farm in 1992
12) HRTV's "Past the Stands" feature on AFFIRMED in addition to special guest AFFIRMED's owner Patrice Wolfson by phone getting the word out on her new website that is devoted to AFFIRMED complete with priceless pictures and articles in a virtual scrapbook
13) Steve Cauthen visits Belmont Park for the Belmont Stakes in 2012 to sign autographs with his old buddy Jorge Velasquez and to re-live their 1978 rivalry in the Triple Crown with AFFIRMED and ALYDAR - a nice segment looking back at the teen phenom Steve Cauthen's career
(1 Hour and 47 Minutes)
|Format(s) Available:||DVD And VHS|
|Category:||U.S. & Canadian Flat Racing|