A gripping look at the great duel between Affirmed, the last horse to win the Triple Crown—comprised of the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes—and his archrival, Alydar.
From the moment they first galloped head-to-head in Saratoga Springs, the two chestnut colts showed they were the stuff of racing legend. Alydar, all muscle with a fearsome closing kick, was already the popular favorite to win the Kentucky Derby. Affirmed, deceptively laid-back streamlined elegance, was powered forward by his steely determination not to settle for second place.
In the Sport of Kings, the Triple Crown is the most valued prize, requiring a horse to win not just one race, but three: the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes. And 1978 would not be just for the record books, but also one of the greatest dramas ever played out in the racing world.
There were names to conjure with, worthy of the Sport of Kings. The bloodline of Native Dancer. The teen wonderboy jockey Steve Cauthen. The once unbeatable Calumet Farm—the Damn Yankees of the racing world—now in eclipse and hoping for a comeback. The newcomer Harbor View Farm—owned by brash financier Louis Wolfson, who wouldn’t let even a conviction and a prison sentence for securities violations stand in the way of his dreams of glory. And the racetracks themselves: Belmont, Saratoga, Pimlico. And, of course, Churchill Downs.
It has been thirty-five years since Affirmed and Alydar fought for the Triple Crown, thirty-five years when no other horse has won it. Duel for the Crown brings this epic battle to life. Not just two magnificent Thoroughbreds but the colorful human personalities surrounding them, caught up in an ever-intensifying battle of will and wits that lasted until the photo finish of the final Triple Crown race . . . and Alydar and Affirmed leaped into the history books.
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About the Author
For three decades, David Rosner has worked as a sportswriter at major metro newspapers and national magazines. As an award-winning staff writer at Newsday in New York, he spent twelve years covering the full gamut of pro sports—including horse racing. He has covered racing since the spring of ’77 when his first bylined stories as a cub reporter chronicled the harrowing Belmont spill that hospitalized the teen sensation Steve Cauthen. Rosner earned national Associated Press Sports Editors Association awards for investigative reporting and for deadline writing as well as New York State AP and UPI awards for enterprise journalism. He also served as editor-in-chief of the national hockey magazine Rinkside and coauthored The Official Illustrated NHL History.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The rivalry between Affirmed and Alydar is the sort of competition the ‘King of Sports’ has not seen in a very long time. Indeed, the drought in Triple Crown winners has left racing fans reminiscing for days of old when two great thoroughbreds sped through the history books with their amazing speed, ability, and desire to win. The battle to the 1978 Triple Crown was more than a simple contest between various horses, and the top breeding farms in Kentucky. This was the year that saw two royally bred colts, one by Raise a Native (THE sire of winning race horses in the late 60s and 70s), and the other a grandson of the illustrious sire, challenge each other all the way to that May day at Churchill Downs. Both horses were bred to be champions, but only one would win it all. Alydar, the son of Raise a Native, was born at Calumet Farm, and while the famous facility was not enjoying the wealth of winners it once had, it was still considered racing royalty. Alydar was the chosen one, the one who would bring the farm back to prominence. Affirmed, meanwhile, was a Florida boy, born at a new farm, founded with “new” money. He, nor the farm’s owner, Lou Wolfson, were what the Kentucky racing aristocracy considered part of the in-crowd. They would have to prove themselves every step of the way and Alydar would be there each and every time to challenge the upstart. Duel for the Crown is a true gem for racing fans. More than a synopsis of the races, this book details the lives of all those involved, from Raise a Native to the young phenom Steve Cauthen. The authors, one a sportswriter, the other a writer and horse trainer, show their familiarity with the world of racing as they chronicle the events that led up to Affirmed winning the Triple Crown. The look into the life of Raise a Native at the start of the book supplied the needed background to understand just what the owners and trainers saw in these two horses before they hit the racetrack. Lots of quotes from those involved help spice up the telling. The book covers everything involved in the build-up to the '78 Triple Crown, including the history of Calumet, the strategies of trainers and jockeys, and the temperaments of the horses. After reading this book, you will have a new appreciation for both Affirmed and Alydar. The only thing that would have made this book an even more enjoyable read would have been more photos; there are very few in this book. Quill says: A fantastic read for racing fans that brings the rivalry between Affirmed and Alydar to life.