By Mint Julep


Affirmed Before and Beyond the Kentucky Derby

affirmed kentucky derby winner 1978

In this thrilling tale, we dive into the intense rivalry between Affirmed and Alydar, two iconic American racehorses whose epic battles on the track defined a remarkable era in horse racing history. We explore how Affirmed’s strategic brilliance and unwavering determination led him to victory over his fierce competitor Alydar in legendary showdowns, ultimately resulting in his historic Triple Crown win. We also uncover Affirmed’s lasting impact as a top-notch breeding stallion, fathering champions who carried on his winning legacy long after he passed away due to laminitis.

Early Life and Family Background

Born on February 21, 1975 in Marion County, Florida, Affirmed was a legendary racehorse. Bred by Louis Wolfson’s prestigious Harbor View Farm, his sire was Exclusive Native—a well-known racehorse and prolific breeding stallion. The story behind Affirmed’s name intrigued many fans due to legal issues involving Wolfson before the colt was born.

Affirmed didn’t just inherit speed from his ancestors; he embodied it with every stride. Growing up at Harbor View Farm, he honed his skills under expert guidance before entering American Thoroughbred racing. His early days were full of promise and determination—an indication of the greatness that lay ahead.

With deep family ties in his bloodline, Affirmed had a rich history within the equestrian world. As he raced alongside other horses across America, spectators admired his grace and power—an example of athletic ability combined with unwavering spirit passed down through generations.

Amidst speculation about his parentage and future success on the track emerged a legacy waiting to be revealed—one that would not only make its mark in racing history but also capture hearts worldwide as fans witnessed an extraordinary tale unfold between thundering hooves heading towards victory.

Racing Record

Affirmed was an extraordinary racehorse who won 22 out of 29 races in his career. He ran like a pro, winning one race after another and making history with each victory. In 1978, he became only the eleventh horse to win the Triple Crown, a huge accomplishment that made him a legend in the world of horse racing.

During the Kentucky Derby, Affirmed dazzled spectators as he charged towards victory with sheer power and determination. At the Preakness Stakes, he showed off not just his speed but also his unbeatable spirit that set him apart from other horses.

At Belmont Park for the Belmont Stakes, it wasn’t just about finishing first – it was about pushing boundaries and fulfilling destiny. With every step he took on that track, Affirmed wrote his name in history books as a champion with grace and strength that amazed everyone watching.

Besides these big races, Affirmed also won prestigious events like Santa Anita Derby and Hollywood Derby. Each win added more shine to his already impressive career. He didn’t just win races; he created unforgettable moments on tracks made of dirt and dreams – inspiring people both on and off the field.

Looking back at Affirmed’s achievements is more than just seeing numbers on paper; it’s recognizing courage, resilience, and pure determination during a golden era of horse racing. While his hoofprints may have faded over time from those famous racetracks, stories of his greatness still echo through generations – teaching us that true champions are remembered not only for their wins but for how they inspire others long after they’re gone.

The Pros & Cons of Legendary Horse Racing Battles


  1. Fans get thrilled by exciting rivalries that bring suspense and anticipation.
  2. Horses and jockeys are pushed to their maximum abilities in intense competitions, displaying remarkable skill and athleticism.
  3. Legendary horses engaging in historic battles contribute depth and richness to the sport’s history.
  4. These rivalries go beyond the racetrack, captivating public interest and sparking inspiration for future generations.


  1. Sometimes, rivalries can steal the spotlight from other skilled horses and their successes.
  2. Tough competition might cause injuries or strain for the horses competing.
  3. Future contenders may feel overwhelmed by the expectations set by previous rivalries.
  4. Occasionally, conflicts or disagreements stemming from these matchups could harm the sport’s image.

Awards and Honors

Affirmed had a collection of trophies and awards that overflowed, showcasing his impressive skills on the racetrack. With lightning-fast speed, he won the title of American Champion Two-Year-Old Colt in 1977, paving the way for his rapid ascent to racing stardom.

His powerful hooves made a lasting impression as he raced to victory as American Champion Three-Year-Old Male Horse in 1978, demonstrating a unique blend of strength and finesse. What began as whispers around tracks soon turned into loud cheers of admiration as Affirmed showed an exceptional ability to leave competitors far behind.

The highlight of his remarkable career was when he was named American Horse of the Year not once but twice – an achievement reserved only for legendary figures deeply ingrained in racing history. It wasn’t just about winning races; it was about creating moments that would be remembered in equestrian annals for years to come.

In 1980, Affirmed received one of his most prestigious honors yet when he was inducted into the United States Racing Hall of Fame. This recognition paid tribute to a horse whose name had become synonymous with determination and unwavering excellence every time he hit the track.

Earning these accolades wasn’t simply about crossing finish lines first; it was about embodying resilience in challenging times, maintaining composure under pressure, and possessing an unbreakable spirit that set him apart from other competitors and elevated him to a position reserved for true champions.

Rivalry with Alydar

The rivalry between Affirmed and Alydar was legendary, captivating racing fans worldwide. Their intense competition pushed both horses to their limits, showcasing unmatched determination on the track.

Affirmed won seven out of ten races against Alydar, proving his exceptional talent and unwavering spirit in winning the Triple Crown. Each race felt like a high-stakes chess match, with strategic moves defining every moment.

The clash between Affirmed and Alydar wasn’t just about speed; it was a battle of wills. These majestic creatures seemed to understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses, leading to thrilling showdowns that left spectators amazed.

Affirmed consistently outmaneuvering Alydar showcased not only his physical prowess but also his intelligence as a racehorse. His jockey must have felt invincible every time they faced off against their formidable rival at the starting gate.

Looking back at those epic duels between Affirmed and Alydar feels almost surreal—a chapter in horse racing history that still captivates fans with its blend of drama, skill, and heart-pounding excitement.

Legendary Racehorse: Affirmed’s Remarkable Achievements

Attribute Data
Affirmed Affirmed at Spendthrift Farm in 1981
Sire Exclusive Native
Grandsire Raise a Native
Dam Won’t Tell You
Damsire Crafty Admiral
Sex Stallion
Foaled 1975
Died January 12, 2001(2001-01-12) (aged 25)
Country United States
Color Chestnut
Breeder Harbor View Farm
Owner Harbor View Farm. Colors: Flamingo, white bars on black sleeves, black cap
Trainer Laz Barrera
Record 29: 22–5–1
Earnings $2,393,818[1]
Major wins Youthful Stakes (1977) Hollywood Juvenile Championship (1977) Sanford Stakes (1977) Hopeful Stakes (1977) Futurity Stakes (1977) Laurel Futurity (1977) San Felipe Stakes (1978) Santa Anita Derby (1978) Hollywood Derby (1978) Jim Dandy Stakes (1978) Strub Stakes (1979) Santa Anita Handicap (1979) Californian Stakes (1979) Hollywood Gold Cup (1979) Woodward Stakes (1979) Jockey Club Gold Cup (1979) Triple Crown race wins: Kentucky Derby (1978) Preakness Stakes (1978) Belmont Stakes (1978)
Awards 11th U.S. Triple Crown Champion (1978) American Champion Two-Year-Old Colt (1977) American Champion Three-Year-Old Male Horse (1978) American Champion Older Male Horse (1979) American Horse of the Year (1978, 1979)
Honors United States Racing Hall of Fame (1980) #12 – Top 100 U.S. Racehorses of the 20th Century Affirmed Handicap at Hollywood Park Affirmed Stakes at Calder Race Course Affirmed Street in Napa, California

Stud Record

Affirmed was an incredible racehorse, and he continued to excel as a breeding stallion. His record syndication fee of $14.4 million demonstrated how highly breeders and fans valued him. This significant amount not only highlighted his victories in the Triple Crown but also indicated the potential for passing on his exceptional racing abilities to future generations.

More than 80 stakes winners can directly link their lineage back to Affirmed, showing his lasting impact on Thoroughbred racing genetics. The champions he sired collectively earned an impressive $44 million through successful careers on the racetrack. These numbers clearly show Affirmed’s ability to pass down speed, endurance, and a strong competitive spirit to his offspring, ensuring that his legacy would endure for years.

The descendants of Affirmed continue carrying forward fragments of his legacy, much like branches extending from a powerful tree across the horse racing world—each champion bearing witness to Affirmed’s enduring influence on the sport.

Breeders sought out those offspring who not only resembled Affirmed physically but also embodied the same determined spirit that made him such a fierce competitor on the track.

Every stride taken by one of this magnificent chestnut colossus’ offspring carries with it echoes from history—a tribute to brilliance preserved in bloodlines stretching beyond mere pedigree into realms where legends are reborn with each thunderous hoofbeat towards victory.

Illness and Passing

Affirmed, a legendary Triple Crown winner, has left an enduring mark on the world of horse racing. However, in 2001, tragedy struck as laminitis threatened this beloved equine star. This dangerous hoof ailment spared no champions, having previously claimed greats like Secretariat and Barbaro before turning its attention to Affirmed.

Word quickly spread through the stables and stands about Affirmed’s battle with laminitis, causing a hush to fall over the racing community. Despite determined efforts from his caregivers and veterinary team, the disease proved too powerful for even a strong horse like him to overcome. The once thunderous sound of his hooves now carried the burden of a cruel affliction – serving as a reminder that life’s twists can affect even those we consider invincible.

As we say goodbye to Affirmed, we hold onto memories colored with triumph and bravery from racetracks all across America. His spirit runs alongside those who admire his unwavering willpower and unmatched drive to conquer any obstacle in his way. Though he may have departed this world, Affirmed remains alive in our hearts as a symbol of courage amid challenges—a guiding light inspiring future generations toward their own greatness on the track where dreams soar high.

Legendary Tales Surrounding Affirmed’s Triple Crown Triumphs

  1. The Thrilling Rivalry Between Affirmed and Alydar: In 1978, the horse racing world was captivated by the intense competition between two exceptional racehorses – Affirmed and Alydar. Throughout the Triple Crown series that year, Affirmed narrowly defeated Alydar in all three races, creating some of the most exciting moments in racing history.
  2. Dominating the Triple Crown Races: Back in 1978, Affirmed made history as the last horse to win all three legs of the prestigious Triple Crown -the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes. His consistent performance and undeniable talent solidified his place as a legendary figure in horse racing.
  3. The Epic Showdown at Belmont Stakes: One of the most memorable moments from 1978 was during Belmont Stakes when fans witnessed an epic battle between Affirmed and Alydar. Despite relentless pressure from Alydar, Affirmed emerged victorious by just a head’s length, securing his spot as a Triple Crown champion.
  4. Honored with Hall of Fame Induction: Recognized for more than just his Triple Crown triumphs; after retiring from racing, Affirmed was honored with induction into the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame in 1980 – sealing his status among the greatest racehorses ever known.
  5. Timeless Appeal Among Fans: Even today – decades after his historic wins –Affirmed continues to be adored within horse racing circles worldwide. His determination on track alongside sheer charisma has left an enduring impact on fans across generations who continue to draw inspiration from this remarkable athlete’s legacy.


Affirmed, a legendary American Thoroughbred racehorse, is widely considered one of the greatest in history. His exceptional riding skills and strategic prowess on the track earned him numerous prestigious titles and records that still stand out in horse racing history even decades after his passing.

In 1978, Affirmed made history by winning the Triple Crown, becoming only the eleventh horse to achieve this remarkable feat. His intense rivalry with Alydar throughout their careers added an extra layer of excitement to each race they competed in, captivating audiences worldwide. Their duels were like watching two heavyweight boxing champions trading blows down the stretch, pushing each other to their limits every time they met on the track.

Despite facing tough competition from Alydar, Affirmed showed unrivaled determination and heart whenever he raced. His ability to dig deep when it mattered most set him apart from his rivals – displaying not just physical talent but also an unyielding spirit that won over fans everywhere. The courage and tenacity he displayed during those intense battles against Alydar became legendary stories passed down among racing enthusiasts for years to come.

Affirmed’s legacy goes beyond numbers or trophies; it embodies what it takes to be a true champion. He represents perseverance, skill, and sportsmanship at its best—a timeless reminder that greatness isn’t just about wins or awards but about how one faces challenges head-on with grace and fortitude. Every hoofbeat tells the tale of a magnificent athlete whose name will forever be remembered within Thoroughbred racing history as golden letters etched into its annals.


Affirmed comes from a family of fast and enduring horses. Raise a Native was known for being really quick at the start, while Crafty Admiral passed on the ability to keep going long distances. This special mix helped Affirmed show off his different racing styles, doing well in short sprints as well as longer races.

You can see Exclusive Native’s influence in how fast Affirmed could turn it up during races, making smart moves when things were getting intense. Also, Won’t Tell You’s bloodline gave him toughness and determination, which were big parts of what made him so strong on the track.

All these good traits came together perfectly in Affirmed, making him a top racer who could outsmart opponents with careful planning and outlast them with grit. It was this powerful combo that kept bringing him win after win.

In big events like the Triple Crown races where everyone is watching closely hoping to make history happen again, Affirmed’s background gave him an edge over others trying to beat him. His genes acted like a secret helper sharing wisdom from past winners while he raced towards greatness down each final stretch.

As fans admired how graceful Affirmed looked on the track and saw history unfold during those epic showdowns with Alydar, they might not have realized that it wasn’t just talent but years of breeding knowledge coming together in every thrilling moment.

Contributions Beyond Racing

After his racing career, Eddie Arcaro explored new opportunities by becoming a spokesperson for Buick Motor Division. He introduced slogans like “If you price a Buick, you’ll buy a Buick,” which helped make the brand popular. This move from horse racing to corporate advertising showed how versatile and charismatic Arcaro was outside of the racetrack.

Arcaro’s ability to smoothly transition from guiding racehorses to starring in car commercials demonstrated his diverse talents. His charm and skill at connecting with people not only made him well-liked in the racing world but also allowed him to succeed in different industries beyond horse sports. It’s amazing how someone used to working with horses could effortlessly switch gears into selling cars with such finesse.

Moreover, Arcaro’s achievements off-track highlight how legendary athletes can excel beyond their original sport. By using his fame earned from winning races on famous horses, Arcaro proved that sporting stars can venture into new fields that appeal to wider audiences as well. His journey serves as an inspiration for young athletes looking to leave their mark both within and outside their chosen fields.

Ultimately, Eddie Arcaro represents the idea that true greatness has no limits; it goes beyond any one specific field or pursuit. Beyond just being remembered for winning prestigious races or championships, he is recognized as a symbol of adaptability and strength—a reminder that champions are defined not only by their successes on tracks but also by how they handle challenges off them with grace and determination.”


1. What made the rivalry between Affirmed and Alydar so iconic in the world of horse racing?

In the exciting world of horse racing, Affirmed and Alydar had a legendary rivalry known for their intense battles on the track. This culminated in Affirmed making history by winning the Triple Crown, demonstrating incredible strategy and determination.

2. How did Affirmed and Alydar’s battles at the Kentucky Derby showcase their competitive spirit and talent?

Affirmed and Alydar had intense battles at the Kentucky Derby that showed off their strong competitive spirit and incredible talent. Affirmed used his smart tactics and unwavering determination to just barely beat his rival in an exciting way.

3. What were some key factors that contributed to Affirmed’s Triple Crown victory over Alydar in 1978?

Affirmed’s strong determination, smart strategies, and close bond with jockey Steve Cauthen helped him win against his tough competitor Alydar in the 1978 Triple Crown races.

4. In what ways did Affirmed and Alydar push each other to greatness throughout their racing careers?

Affirmed and Alydar constantly pushed each other to be their best on the racetrack, engaging in fierce duels that displayed their exceptional talent and determination. Their intense rivalry fueled a relentless pursuit of excellence, showcasing their skills and drive for success.

5. How did the contrasting styles of Affirmed and Alydar influence their performances on the track?

Affirmed and Alydar had different strengths that made their races exciting to watch. Affirmed was versatile and strategic, while Alydar was powerful and determined. Their fierce competition on the track pushed each other to perform at their best, creating a legendary rivalry celebrated for its thrilling clashes of contrasting styles.

6. What lasting impact did the Affirmed vs. Alydar rivalry have on American Thoroughbred racing history?

The intense competition between Affirmed and Alydar didn’t just entertain racing fans with their epic battles on the track. It also established them as two of the top competitors in history, demonstrating sportsmanship, drive, and excellence in American Thoroughbred racing.