LEGEND OF AFFIRMED w/BONUS FOOTAGE
AFFIRMED was on the delicate side with long graceful legs..slender, streamlined, lighter in body weight and a much lighter shade of chestnut than ALYDAR - a big, solid, robust flashy liver chestnut full of charm and personality who belonged to the famed Calumet Farm. Just as their physical nature differed so too did their temperaments: AFFIRMED always carried himself in a calm, regal manner...he had a wonderful disposition...always kind and willing. On the other hand, ALYDAR was very nervous and edgy as if he couldn't wait for the race to begin. They epitomized the two running styles of running: AFFIRMED the front runner who took the lead at the start of the race and held it and ALYDAR...forever the stretch runner who ran best stalking the pace and making up huge ground closing at the end of a race. So it was AFFIRMED vs. ALYDAR: a match made in heaven.
This classic documentary on AFFIRMED shows highlights of the following races with ALYDAR: 1977 Youthful, 1977 Great American, 1977 Hopeful - this is where the intense rivalry really began as each horse had scored a victory against the other up to this point, 1977 Belmont Futurity, 1977 Champagne and 1977 Laurel Futurity. The two protagonists would face off ten times in a 14-month span; AFFIRMED trained by LAZ BARRERA beat ALYDAR four races out of their six meetings that year as juveniles and sealed the
Two-Year-Old Colt Championship but little did everyone know that the best was yet to come.
The two adversaries went their separate ways to prepare for their three-year-old campaigns...ALYDAR stayed in the East, his trainer, JOHN VEITCH, opting to take the traditional Florida-Kentucky route to the Triple Crown trail while AFFIRMED was shipped to California - he reeled off four straight victories culminating with his two-length tepid Hollywood Derby win (stretch drive only is shown). ALYDAR, meanwhile, was brilliant in Florida and Kentucky - winning four races dominantly...two in near-record time and another by thirteen incredible lengths!
The stage was now set for the approaching Kentucky Derby and the nation focused on STEVE CAUTHEN, the 17-year-old riding phenom had been a perfect match for AFFIRMED but had never ridden in a Kentucky Derby before, meanwhile ALYDAR and veteran jockey, VELAZQUEZ, were installed as the 6-5 favorite with AFFIRMED second choice at 9-5.
AFFIRMED with great resolution took command at the quarter pole and never looked back...ALYDAR finished second 1-1/2 lengths back. The margin was closer in the Preakness, but the result the same as pacesetter, AFFIRMED held off ALYDAR's challenge in the stretch to win by a neck. Of all the great moments provided by these two remarkable horses, nothing could remotely compare to the monumental struggle that took place at the Belmont Stakes. ALYDAR was looking stronger after every race and the racing hardboots, though impressed with AFFIRMED's previous two races, chose ALYDAR to finally overtake AFFIRMED who looked tired and was showing signs of weariness.
In a change of strategy, ALYDAR's trainer took the blinkers off of ALYDAR and told VELAZQUEZ to go out early this time and battle AFFIRMED from the start. The strategy seemed to pay off...for the last mile of the race ALYDAR was glued to AFFIRMED...the two horses pulled all stops and staged the most exciting stretch run in racing history. Side by side, stride for stride, they ran as one until finally, displaying the courage and tenacity of a champion, AFFIRMED dug in with heart and determination and held off ALYDAR by a head in the last crucial yards to become racings 11th Triple Crown winner. CAUTHEN rose up and waved his whip in a confirming victory salute. "He gave every ounce he had and really had to fight for that one", CAUTHEN said. He proved he had an intangible that ALYDAR didn't have - a tremendous will to win under any circumstance.
AFFIRMED followed the Triple Crown with a win in Saratoga's Jim Dandy - many consider this as his best race as his running style was usually on the lead but he was twelve lengths behind SENSITIVE PRINCE in deep stretch...with a final surge, AFFIRMED caught up and made it first to the wire. Then with LAFFIT PINCAY, JR., in the saddle, AFFIRMED won the historic Travers Stakes but his number came down for causing interference. The horse he had cut off in mid-stretch and subsequently awarded the victory was ALYDAR - after what was seen in the Triple Crown races, the Travers outcome was such an unsatisfying renewal to their rivalry...the two great competitors would never meet again on the track after this tenth race.
There were even sterner tests for AFFIRMED to face for awaiting him at Belmont Park was the formidable figure of SEATTLE SLEW who was lightly raced that year as a four-year-old. AFFIRMED who had been in hard training for an entire year, was definitely feeling a little jaded by mid-September. In a classic match-up - the first time two Triple Crown winners were pitted against the other in history, AFFIRMED was no match for SEATTLE SLEW in the 1978 Marlboro Cup and lost by three lengths. This loss was followed by a disastrous fifth place finish at the same track when his saddle slipped in the 1978 Jockey Club Gold Cup against SEATTLE SLEW and EXCELLER - another historic race...the first time three millionaires ran in the same race. He was still voted Champion Three-Year-Old and Horse-of-the-Year for 1978, however, based on the strength of his Triple Crown which was too bright to ignore.
At four-years-old, AFFIRMED went out in a blaze of glory with victories in his last seven starts which he won by a total of 29 and 1/2-lengths. The Hollywood Gold Cup winner's purse of $275,000 pushed AFFIRMED's total earnings to over $2 million replacing KELSO as the all-time money earner's list. In the last race of his career, Horse of the Year honors were on the line as AFFIRMED squared off with SPECTACULAR BID, the best three-year-old in the country, in the 1979 Jockey Club Gold Cup - a race some considered, "The Race of the Century". AFFIRMED repelled four challenges by "THE BID" throughout the race but forged his way to the lead and bolted to the finish line 1/2-length before him. With nothing else left to prove on the track AFFIRMED was retired with 22 wins in 29 starts and as sound and as perfect as when he arrived on the track for the first time.
He represented the composite of what the ultimate Thoroughbred should be: sound and competitive, consistent, he could run at any distance from six furlongs to 1-1/2 miles. In addition to his great assets of courage and intelligence, speed and stamina he was adaptable to everything and had many different running abilities - nothing was too difficult for him to overcome. AFFIRMED's list of accomplishments is long and distinguished: twice Horse-of-the- Year, a champion for three consecutive years, the first horse to win over $2 million, retired as the then-richest horse in history with $2,393,818 in earnings, and was the 11th Triple Crown winner.
The third Triple Crown winner of the 1970's, he was like SECRETARIAT and SEATTLE SLEW but what set him apart in a, "Decade of Champions", was the tenacity that he showed. So many of the great ones earned their reputations with easy wins or dramatic runs from far behind to win with style and a flourish. AFFIRMED, too, had his dramatic moments and he certainly had a style, but it was mostly the drama and style of struggling right down to the wire. He worked hard because he had to and he earned the respect and admiration due a great champion.
On January 12, 2001, the noble AFFIRMED was humanely put to sleep because of musculo-skeletal complications that aggravated laminitis. PATRICE WOLFSON said in a statement, "The decision today was difficult from a sentimental viewpoint but also obviously the proper course to prevent AFFIRMED from suffering. We appreciate the excellent care and professional compassion shown AFFIRMED by Jonabell Farm and the wonderful vets who attended him. Like us, they put the humane treatment of this dignified animal above all other considerations. My husband and I cherish the expressions of support for AFFIRMED over the years, not only when he was a racehorse but also during his lengthy and successful career as a stallion. As all of you know who are involved with racing, a horse like AFFIRMED comes along more by magic than by plan. Lou and I have always, and will remain, grateful that this unique good fortune was directed our way. His tremendous heart, class and courage made him a genuine pleasure to be around - a true gentleman. We cannot begin to imagine how much we will miss him." AFFIRMED will forever stand with those who exemplify the word, "Champion" in Thoroughbred racing...he will be greatly missed and certainly never forgotten.
AS AN ADDED BONUS...Several priceless segments and stories of AFFIRMED and ALYDAR are added after the end of the main feature...ENJOY!!
1) Santa Anita Park tribute to AFFIRMED after the racing world is dealt a devastating blow with news of his death at 25-years-old in January, 2001, from laminitis
2) Horse racing channel, TVG's lengthy feature on Steve Cauthen from 2003
3) Extremely rare stallion commercial of AFFIRMED when he stood at Calumet Farm
4) Segment on ALYDAR's trainer, John Veitch, from ESPN's segment, "Where Are They Now?"
5) AFFIRMED and ALYDAR's 30-year Triple Crown anniversary (ESPN)
6) Horse racing channel, HRTV's "Inside Information" series with a segment on AFFIRMED in time for his 30-year Triple Crown milestone
7) 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
8) Horse racing channel TVG lengthy segment of AFFIRMED and ALYDAR in 1978 as John Veitch and Steve Cauthen re-live all the wonderful memories
9) 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.
10) 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.
11) 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
|Format(s) Available:||DVD And VHS|
|Category:||U.S. & Canadian Flat Racing|