Affirmed vs Alydar – The Rivalry

Affirmed vs Alydar

Not many rivalries can come close to the Affirmed vs Alydar rivalry in the 1978 Triple Crown races. It is not often you can mention a Triple Crown winner, and also know who was his runner up, but because the was such a heated rivalry, you can not mention Affirmed without Alydar. And their rivalry goes beyond just the Triple Crown races, they met 10 times with Affirmed coming out winner seven of those times, by only a combined 3 lengths! Talk about excitement!

Let’s meet the contenders!



affirmed vs alydar affirmed vs alydar
Sire: Exclusive Native
Dam: Won’t Tell You
Sex: Stallion
Foaled: February 21, 1975
Died: January 12, 2001 (Age 25)
Color: Chestnut
Breeder/Owner: Harbor View Farm
Trainer: Laz Barrera
Record: 29 22-5-1
Earnings: $2,393,818
Sire: Raise a Native
Dam: Sweet Tooth
Sex: Stallion
Foaled: March 23, 1975
Died: November 15, 1990 (Age 15)
Color: Chestnut
Breder/Owner: Calumet Farm
Trainer: John M. Veitch
Record: 26 14-9-1
Earnings: $957,195
Major Wins:

Hollywood Juvenile Championship
Sanford Stakes
Hopeful Stakes
Futurity Stakes
Laurel Futurity

San Felipe Stakes
Santa Anita Derby
Hollywood Derby
Jim Dandy Stakes

Strub Stakes
Santa Anita Handicap
Californian Stakes
Hollywood Gold Cup
Woodward Stakes
Jockey Club Fold Cup

Triple Crown Races 1978
Kentucky Derby
Preakness Stakes
Belmont Stakes

Major Wins:

Great American Stakes
Champagne Stakes
Tremont Stakes

Flamingo Stakes
Florida Derby
Blue Grass Stakes
Arlington Classic Stakes
Travers Stakes
Whitney Handicap

Nassau County Handicap

Triple Crown Races 1978 (placings)
Kentucky Derby – 2nd
Preakness Stakes – 2nd
Belmont Stakes – 2nd


 Honors and Awards

11th U.S. Triple Crown Winner (1978)
American Champion 2 year old Colt(1977)
American Champion 3 year old Male (1978)
American Champion Older Male Horse (1979)
American Horse of the Year (1978, 1979)
United States Racing Hall of Fame (1980)

#12 – Top 100 U.S. Racehorses of 20th Century
Affirmed Handicap at Hollywood Park
Affirmed Stakes at Caldar Race Course
Affirmed Street in Napa, California

Honors and Awards

Leading Sire North America (1990)
United States Racing Hall of Fame (1980)
#27 – Top 100 U.S. Racehorses of the 20th Century
Alydar Stakes at Hollywood Park


 Affirmed vs Alydar – The 2yo Season!

Affirmed and Alydar met six times in 1977 as two year olds. Four times at Belmont Park, once at Laurel Park and once at Saratoga.

In their first meeting in June 1977 in the Youthful Stakes at Belmont, Affirmed crushed Alydar and beat him by 5 lengths, Alydar came in 5th. Less than a month later in July, Affirmed vs Alydar struck again in the Great American Stakes at Belmont. Alydar got his revenge on Affirmed and beat him by 3 1/2 lengths.

affirmed vs alydar alydar defeats affirmed
Alydar defeats Affirmed

The third and fourth meetings, the Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga and the Belmont Futurity at Belmont Park both went to the mighty Affirmed by a combined 3/4 length for both races.

Race 5 in the Affirmed vs Alydar rivalry was  Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park, which Alydar defeated Affirmed by 1 1/4 lengths. The 6th meeting, the Laurel Futurity at laurel Park was won by Affirmed by a neck.

Though Alydar fought hard during the 1977 two year old campaign, Affirmed beat him 4 out of 6 races, and also went on to get the 1977 Champion Male Juvenile honors.

Affirmed vs Alydar  – The 3yo Season!

The three year old season in the Affirmed vs Alydar rivalry was one for the ages. It consisted of four races, three of which are the most important races in any three year old campaign! The Triple Crown!

1978 Kentucky Derby – Affirmed vs Alydar

Fresh off his American Champion Juvenile honors and ready to roll, Affirmed won the 1978 Kentucky Derby over Alydar by 1 1/2 lengths! It was the race of the ages, but there was more to come. Can Affirmed keep it up to win the Preakness, and beat his nemesis? Onward we go..

1978 Preakness Stakes Affirmed vs. Alydar

Aggghhh! If you are an Alydar lover you are heartbroken again!!! Affirmed grabs the 1978 Preakness Stakes by a neck! The margins are getting smaller..can Alydar stretch it out to finally beat Affirmed in a Triple Crown Race in the Belmont Stakes, and ruin Affirmed’s quest for the Triple Crown?!!

1978 Belmont Stakes – Affirmed vs Alydar

What a race! Literally DOWN TO THE WIRE! Affirmed vs Alydar neck and neck down the stretch in the Belmont Stakes, Affirmed trying to make history and Alydar trying to ruin it! They courageously battle back and forth, and it looks like a photo finish! Results are in..Affirmed by a HEAD! Just heartbreaking for Alydar! But what a game horse!

The Final Race: Affirmed vs Alydar

Later that summer after the Triple Crown, Affirmed and Alydar met in the Travers Stakes at Belmont in which the physical order was Affirmed in 1st place and Alydar in 2nd, however an enquiry to the stewards saw that Affirmed had bumped Alydar, and the stewards gave the win to Alydar.

Most people choose not to count this race in the Affirmed vs Alydar rivalry, as it came down to a mann made decision, but a win is a win for any horse!


The final tally:

Affirmed: 7 wins

Alydar: 3 wins.


Whoever your favorite, you can be rest assured these two horses always brought their A-Game when they battled each other. Most will say Affirmed is the best, he won all the honors, Horse of the Year twice and such, but you have to give it to Alydar. Race in and race out, he just continued to fight. He kept getting closer in those Triple Crown races and almost had the upset!

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed!