Affirmed: The 1900's Champion
Even though he raced over 40 years ago, Affirmed is a racehorse whose legacy still lives on to this day. Whether it be through the fact that he became the 11th Triple Crown Winner or through his intense rivalry with Alydar. Affirmed will always be remembered as one of the best racehorses to come out of the 20th century. In fact, he was voted by Blood-Horse magazine as being the 12th-best thoroughbred champion of the 1900s. With accolades like that numerous other awards, it's hard not to see just what kind of career Affirmed had.
After all, Affirmed's owner, Patrice Wolfson, said it best: "A horse like Affirmed comes along more by magic than by plan."
- Place of birth: Marion County, Florida
- Date of birth/death: Feb. 21, 1975 - Jan. 12, 2001
- Sex: Stallion
- Owner: Harbor View Farm, Louis and Patrice Wolfson
- Trainer: Laz Barrera
- Sire: Exclusive Native
- Dame: Won't Tell You
- Jockey: Steve Cauthen
- Record: 29: 22-5-1
- Career earnings: $2,393,818.00
One of Affirmed's top crowning achievements was when he became the 11th Triple Crown Champion in 1978 during his three-year-old season. The first third of the Triple Crown came when Affirmed lined up against his rival, Alydar, at the Kentucky Derby. Even with Affirmed's past success, Alydar was the favorite to win the race. Despite the odds being stacked against him, Affirmed went on to win the Kentucky Derby, while Alydar finished in second.
The next part of Affirmed's Triple Crown came at the Preakness Stakes, where he would once again go head-to-head with Alydar. This time, the race literally came down to a photo finish that needed to be reviewed as it could've gone either way between Affirmed and Alydar. After further review, the official concluded that Affirmed was the winner of the race, and subsequently became one of the youngest racehorses to surpass $1 million in career earnings.
Lastly, the Triple Crown was completed at the Belmont Stakes where the race came down to another photo finish between Affirmed and Alydar. Winning the 1978 Triple Crown pushed Affirmed's reputation to the moon, earning him the honors of being the 1978 Horse of the Year.
No other horse would win the Triple Crown for another 37 years until American Pharoah did so in 2015.
He would also go on to be the 1979 Horse of the Year, as well, before being inducted into the United States Racing Hall of Fame in 1980.
While many racehorse enthusiasts know about Affirmed's rivalry with Alydar, many don't know just how many times they race each other. They rivals raced against each other 10 times between 1977-78, with Affirmed winning seven of those races and Alydar winning the other three. Their rivalry also includes five photo finishes, which cements the fact that Affirmed and Alydar had one of the most historic rivalries in American horse racing history.
After Affirmed retired from racing, he had a successful career as a stud. He went on to sire talented horses like Peteski, who won the Canadian Triple Crown, and Flawlessly, a two-time grass course champion. In total, Affirmed sired over 80 offspring who went on to earn more than $40 million.
Unfortunately, Affirmed was euthanized at the age of 25 due to the same hoof disease, laminitis, that affected Secretariat. Affirmed may have been able to live longer, but his owners chose to euthanize him rather than continue to see him suffer for the rest of his life. He ended up being buried at Jonabell Farm in Lexington, Kentucky wearing the Wolfsons' trademark pink and black silks.