By Linda Carroll
A gripping examine the good duel among Affirmed, the final horse to win the Triple Crown—comprised of the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes—and his archrival, Alydar.
From the instant they first galloped head-to-head in Saratoga Springs, the 2 chestnut colts confirmed they have been the stuff of racing legend. Alydar, all muscle with a fearsome remaining kick, used to be already the preferred favourite to win the Kentucky Derby. Affirmed, deceptively laid-back streamlined beauty, used to be powered ahead by means of his steely decision to not accept moment place.
In the game of Kings, the Triple Crown is the main valued prize, requiring a horse to win not only one race, yet 3: the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes. And 1978 wouldn't be only for the checklist books, but in addition one of many maximum dramas ever performed out within the racing world.
There have been names to conjure with, helpful of the game of Kings. The bloodline of local Dancer. the teenager wonderboy jockey Steve Cauthen. The as soon as unbeatable Calumet Farm—the rattling Yankees of the racing world—now in eclipse and hoping for a comeback. The newcomer Harbor View Farm—owned by way of brash financier Louis Wolfson, who wouldn’t enable even a conviction and a jail sentence for securities violations stand within the manner of his desires of glory. And the racetracks themselves: Belmont, Saratoga, Pimlico. And, after all, Churchill Downs.
It has been thirty-five years considering the fact that Affirmed and Alydar fought for the Triple Crown, thirty-five years whilst no different horse has received it. Duel for the Crown brings this epic conflict to existence. not only marvelous Thoroughbreds however the colourful human personalities surrounding them, stuck up in an ever-intensifying conflict of will and wits that lasted till the photograph end of the ultimate Triple Crown race . . . and Alydar and Affirmed leaped into the background books.
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Extra info for Duel for the Crown: Affirmed, Alydar, and Racing's Greatest Rivalry
Simply AS bring up a local had sooner than him, particular local made himself correct at domestic in Spendthrift Farm’s lush bluegrass paddocks, plush stallion barn, and, in fact, bustling breeding shed. From the time each one was once vanned to the Thoroughbred capital of Lexington, Kentucky, domestic turned the 6,100 rolling acres of top bluegrass that made up America’s greatest horse farm—and, extra to the purpose, America’s major horse manufacturing facility. To Leslie Combs II, the pony dealer who had based Spendthrift Farm on simply 127 acres in 1937 after which remodeled Thoroughbred breeding from a genteel hobby right into a dog-eat-dog enterprise, they have been fields of desires. infamous as “the grasp salesman of the century,” Combs wasn’t simply peddling horseflesh—he used to be promoting lottery tickets to the winner’s circle and generations of confirmed bloodlines. He did it with all of the appeal of a political candidate, introducing himself in his thick Bourbon drawl as “good ol’ Cousin Leslie” and throwing lavish soirees for well-heeled consumers that ranged from Fred Astaire to Elizabeth Arden, from Lord Derby to Captain Guggenheim, from Louis B. Mayer to Louis Wolfson. If the fourteen-room colonial mansion the place Cousin Leslie served mint juleps to his prosperous consumers was once just like the moment coming of Tara, it was once not anything in comparison to the Southern hospitality he provided to the farm’s richest stallions. Designed like no different stallion barn, it used to be a wide, low-slung, U-shaped construction developed of sandstone and metal, with 16 spacious stalls fanning round a grass courtyard embellished with multicolored plant life and manicured shrubs. Dubbed the “Nashua Motel,” it used to be inbuilt the past due Fifties to create a formal domestic for Nashua correct after Combs made him history’s first million-dollar stallion. Combs had received the 1955 Horse of the yr at public sale for a checklist $1. 25 million and prepare a bunch of traders to separate the associated fee via divvying up the breeding rights into thirty-two stocks. That popularized the syndication of stallions—a perform Combs had innovated after international struggle II whilst he’d bought a number of associates a few breeding stocks to unfold round the danger in a horse he’d simply bought—and propelled it into the gap age. For years after the large bay used to be retired to face at Spendthrift, he remained the king of the eponymous Nashua inn, reigning from his best stall at one finish of the U-shaped stallion barn. yet now he used to be now not the head stud. That contrast belonged to the chestnut stallion occupying the stall without delay around the courtyard on the different finish of the U: bring up a local, whose $2. 6 million syndication had made him the richest stud. In a close-by stall was once his son specific local, himself syndicated for a funky $1. nine million. every time one in every of them received a mobilephone name within the stallion barn, it intended he was once being summoned for one more dear date. On a funky day in March 1974, the telephone rang for specific local. a couple of minutes later, his groom led him from his stall, either arms gripping the lead rope. Neck curled and nostrils flared, the muscular stallion jigged impatiently subsequent to the fellow as they made their approach down the trail.