06/03/2009 1:17PM



Although an equine Triple Crown won't be on the line at Belmont Park on Saturday, let's take a look back at the last thoroughbred champion to achieve racing immortality by sweeping the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes.

From Joe Hirsch's "1978 Racing in Review" column in the 1979 American Racing Manual

"...His victory in the Preakness put Affirmed over the $1,000,000 mark in earnings, the first time a 3-year-old enjoyed this status at such an early date.  Yet despite this achievement, and his superb record of 13 wins in 15 starts, Affirmed hadn't captured every heart.  There were some who felt that at the mile and a half of the Belmont Stakes, Alydar might yet get up in time. 
In any event, everyone was eager to see the final race of the classic series.  And so it was that a crowd of 65,417 turned out for the 110th running of the $184,300 Belmont on June 10.  Both colts had trained up to the race beautifully.  Affirmed had gone a mile in 1:40 1/5 on June 1 and five furlongs in 1:01 on June 7.  Alydar also worked June 1, going the Belmont distance of a mile and a half in 2:43 3/5.  He came back four days later with six furlongs in 1:12 3/5 and then blew out the morning before the race in :35 for three furlongs on a sloppy track.
In preparing Our Mims for the 12-furlong Coaching Club American Oaks the preceding spring, Veitch worked his strapping filly a mile and a half and saw her win off that demanding regimen.  The son of a Hall of Fame horseman (Sylvester Veitch), he knew the Belmont normally required the acme of fitness.  With an opponent as determined as Affirmed, the need was even greater.  Veitch also took the blinkers off Alydar for his final works and for his Belmont race.  Alydar had worn blinkers winning the Sapling as a 2-year-old in the fifth start."

"Veitch was confident that Alydar had an excellent chance to turn the tables on Affirmed in the Belmont, which was to be the ninth meeting between these superb colts.  However, Veitch wanted to change tactics, to deny Affirmed the easy lead he enjoyed from the outset in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.  The Calumet trainer wanted Alydar to contest the issue almost from the start, and so instructed Velasquez.
The paddock at Belmont Park was jammed on Belmont Day, for everyone wanted another chance to see racing's most exciting show.  Both colts were remarkable in appearance as they stripped for action under the scrutiny of their admirers.  Despite the rigors of Triple Crown competition, which have wasted so many 3-year-olds, Affirmed and Alydar seemed to thrive on their grueling rivalry and hard training. 
The large crowd sent Affirmed off at 3-5 while Alydar was second choice at 11-10.  Darby Creek Road, third choice in the field of five, was 10-1. 
As anticipated, Cauthen had Affirmed away alertly to lead through a quarter in :25, a half-mile in :50.  Alydar, rarely a bullet out of the gate, saved ground to the first turn, then improved his position smartly.  By the time Affirmed was straightening into the backstretch, Alydar was second and soon challenged the favorite, as per Veitch's orders."

"After six furlongs in 1:14, the protagonists were half a length apart and crowd roared in appreciation of the drama it was witnessing.  It was apparent this was to be a duel to the death, with no quarter asked and none given.  They went the first mile in 1:37 2/5, and when they passed the three-eighths pole, they were virtually even. 
They went the mile and a quarter in 2:01 3/5, Affirmed on the inside and Alydar lapped on him, and as they entered the stretch, Alydar appeared to move abreast of the favorite.  Roars of excitement broke over the track as Affirmed and Alydar battled in full view of the crowd.  Cauthen, sensing the need for special measures, had saved something just for that moment.  He had never hit Affirmed left-handed, but now, with Velasquez riding him so close it was difficult to whip right-handed, he switched hands and got the response he sought. 
Affirmed inched ahead and held that lead to the wire.  Near the finish, one could see Alydar thrusting his neck forward, straining with every muscle to catch his rival.  But he missed by a head as Belmont Park erupted in an explosion of fervor.  Some in the stands weren't certain about the outcome but Cauthen rose in his irons, a stride or two past the finish line, and waved his whip in exultation."

"It was one of the greatest races every run, anywhere.  Those who saw Jaipur and Ridan race the mile and a quarter of the 1962 Travers as a team witnessed a smasher.  Gun Bow and Kelso were magnificent in disputing the stretch run of the 1964 Woodward, and those who were present at Santa Anita in 1950, when Noor beat Citation in the San Juan Capistrano, will never forget that thrilling encounter.  But none of these duels took place in a race as important as a classic, and the crowd sustained its applause and shouts of approval for victor and vanquished alike for many minutes.
When calm prevailed, it was noted that Affirmed's 2:26 4/5 for the mile and a half was the third fastest Belmont, topped only by Secretariat's record 2:24 in 1973 and Gallant Man's 2:26 3/5 in 1957.  In the previous Belmont, when Seattle Slew completed his sweep of the Triple Crown, he was timed in 2:29 3/5.
For the record, Darby Creek Road finished third in the Belmont, 13 lengths behind Alydar, while Judge Advocate and Noon Time Spender completed the small field in that order.  Both Lou Rondinello, who trained Darby Creek Road, and John Russell, who trained Judge Advocate, admitted later that once the field entered the stretch and the fate of their own colts appeared sealed, they swung their glasses to the embattled leaders and thrilled, as racing fans, to the fury of the battle.
On the morning following the Belmont, a jubilant Laz Barrera said that Affirmed had come out of the arduous Triple Crown series in excellent order and would probably have the historic Travers Stakes at Saratoga as his next major goal.  John Veitch also listed the Travers as Alydar's principal summer objective.  He added that he was not discouraged in the slightest and that he felt Alydar could beat Affirmed.
Affirmed and Alydar were restless on holiday.  There is no greater drain on the physical resources of a thoroughbred than participation in the Triple Crown races, but these two remarkable individuals shook off any ill effects quickly and were ready to resume astonishingly soon.
Bold Forbes, the 1976 Kentucky Derby and Belmont winner, was so used up in this crucible that six weeks after the Belmont, he stood in his stall like a shell-shocked soldier, his head drooping, his manner listless.  Seattle Slew, the 1977 Triple Crown hero, was never himself after the Belmont, for the remainder of the year.  A series of illnesses through late summer and fall kept him on the sidelines..."

Here is a video of the 1978 Belmont Stakes (courtesy of youtube):


Imagine the uproar if Chip Wooley worked Mine That Bird like Veitch trained Alydar leading up the race.  Nine days out, he worked 1 1/2 miles!!!  Four days after that, he drilled six furlongs, and he then blew out three-eighths the morning of the race!!!  That's a racehorse!


BTW, is there HG this week, or is it the Belmont?

Yes, the Belmont Stakes is this week's HandiGambling exercise.  The same rules apply as the Preakness and Derby contests.  I believe there is a Brooklyn-Belmont double that can be used as well.


i just seen that calvin said MTB will win the belmont..what do you guys think about him saying that?..also the last time said something like that publicly was the BC Classic with Street Sense and we all know what happened there

Borel told Bob Costas, and the world for that matter, that Rachel Alexandra would win the Preakness while in the jock's room before the race.  He was right that time.  We'll see how good a handicapper he is this week.


DAN-since you've got some "pull" I would think,  in the filters in addition to dirt and turf, what are the odds of adding artificial as one of the "surface options". Being in the Chicago area, the difference between performance at Arlington and Hawthorne can be astounding (both ways) I'm trying to talk Mike into claiming a horse who is pretty much near or at the back at Arlington race in and race out but "owns" Hawthorne.
Stephen Taylor

Formulator Web has the synthetic stats (as well as synthetic to turf, synthetic to dirt, and vice versa).  For example, Frank Springer (trainer of the first horse in the first race tomorrow) is 4-50 over the past five years on synthetic tracks.


Talk to you later,


chaazz More than 1 year ago
Handigambling 138 $1.00 Spr/key: 12w/1-6-7-11 =$24 $6.00 Tri/key 12w/ 1-6-7-11 =$72 $4.00 to win on #12
tencentcielo More than 1 year ago
And now the epic, and i do mean epic, conclusion to the Cathy OLA Saga, using a ton of horses from the Belmont card on Saturday: Cathy and the weasel faced off in an epic struggle. Cathy was HANGINONBYATHREAD when suddenly her long-lost BROTHER NICK appeared; leading the cavalry charge up LINCOLN ROAD to save her. He had disappeared into these hills after LIVINGOUTADREAM by running up all of the credit cards way pass their BORROWING LIMIT in a raucous weekend in Vegas. He was WANTED ALIVE by the credit card companies, who had hired some ‘muscle’ from back east. Behind Nick was the man from back east, who had GONE ASTRAY from his assignment when he heard that Cathy was in trouble. [He would have to pay a REGAL RANSOM to get out from this mess, but to him Cathy was worth it.] Trucker Keith L. SENIOR was next, quipping “This is no one’s idea of a DREAMED DAY of fun.” The Sheriff who had SPURRED the group up the range after hearing over the radio on channel SIX-THIRTEEN that “there was a motorcycle headed up into the old EXPANSION of the Comstock Lode mines”. The Sheriff saw this as a chance to give himself a CLEAN SHOT a life after what happened at the FABULOUS STRIKE as the locals called it. The media called it the Showgirl Massacre. But that was in the past, now was his shot at redemption. This DREAM PLAY of events was thing he needed to redeem himself. Chalky chased Cathy into the mines. The group followed quickly after them and split up to cover more ground. Chalky cornered Cathy, screeching, “You BETTER TALK NOW Cathy or you’ll never talk to anyone ever again!” Chalky cocked her gun. CLANG! “I’ve got FOUR GIFTS for you, you chalk-sucking rat!” It was Keith. He whacked her 2 more times, and as he wound up for the final gift, Chalky woozily said, “I think I LOST MY CHOO.” as Keith sent her flying down the mineshaft. “Darn girl nearly cost me my bounty!” “What are you talking about? Am I your bounty?” “Yes.” “All of that lovey-dovey, BELIEVE IN LOVE crap was nothing more than a CASANOVA MOVE to get close to me you so you could collect some money, you worthless MANCHILD?” “Yes. SO IT GOES without saying that the marriage is off. But since you know my secret, I’ll have to kill you“. He whipped out the gun the cop had given him earlier. Well, bye-bye Cathy, hope heaven will COME SOON for you.” BOOM! “I guess my scheme was going to BLOW UP eventually, but I never expected this,” as Keith slumped down to the ground holding his blood-soaked chest. “I remember you”, Cathy says, “Your tencentcielo’s friend. Your” CRASH! “None of you will make out alive!” Keith cracked after he had shot out a support pillar. The mine started to collapse. “None of them made it out alive”, the sheriff quipped. "Guess true love was meant to be”, as he drove of in his truck. “No one knows were alive. Can’t believe we found that old MINER’S ESCAPE hatch in the nick of time. Cathy, there is something I want to confess. I was the one who you were conversing online with. It is I who wrote that we should be FOREVER TOGETHER. It is I who loves you. It is I” “Stop, I knew it was you all along, from the moment you stared at me with such intense longing that penetrated to my very soul. I love you to and I want to spend the rest of my life with you." As they drove off into the sunset on Chalky’s motorcycle, the clouds spelled their names Cathy heart PGM. The End. “I’m done honey.” “Hoped you liked my birthday present to you. We can just make the bake-off. We’ll knock ‘em dead with our sour cream cheese cupcakes with the gooey, rich CHOCOLATE CANDY center. Got your apron dear? Let’s roll!” Their aprons had written on them, “Mrs. & MR. HOT STUFF” The End. mwahahahahahahahahaha tencentcielo :-P
Blue Horseshoe More than 1 year ago
RE: Belmont Stakes I see four possible winners, Dunkirk, Mine That Bird, Charitable Man, and Mr. Hot Stuff. As far as Charitable Man, I think that he is substantially superior to last year’s winner Da Tara and if he were to get an easy lead galloping around a speed favoring surface, then he’ll have no problem winning. Like Da Tara last year, Zito will send Miner’s Escape to the lead. CM is easily faster and would have no problem outrunning ME from the inside position, but at what cost? I’m betting that CM gets used early and therefore doesn’t last until the end. I know that they can take him off the pace but the only scenario I see him winning is an easy lone lead… I still maintain that in my opinion, the two most impressive performances from any 3 year olds this year came from Dunkirk in his Allowance win and Florida Derby. There is no question in my mind that he’s a major talent and I believe the best horse in the race. The Kentucky Derby is an easy throw out for me all things considered and he comes into this race over his home track a fresh and very dangerous shooter. Dunkirk is my pick to win… I believe that Mine That Bird is a deserving favorite and while I remained a pessimist on him until the Preakness, I’m quite comfortable that he is legitimate. He’s had two tough races and big efforts within 5 weeks and can he come right back with another?? Too much risk versus too short of a price when competing against the likes of a fresh Dunkirk and others… Mr. Hot Stuff is a horse that Steve T. got me focused onto. I loved the way he looked in his training at Churchill Downs and then was disappointed with his outcome in the Derby but like Dunkirk, this race is a complete throw out for me as a big field and the slop are always a recipe for chaotic results… He is certainly the kind of horse that you pick in a contest because he’s going to be a nice price and there is solid logical upside potential. The decision process on MHS for me breaks down to: Is there a chance that he is a dirt horse and will therefore run better on dirt than synthetics and if so, what probability? He only lost by 2 lengths to POTN in the SA Derby, if he improves on dirt, what will he do? Win the Belmont maybe??? In terms of value, he could end up being the best pick in the race… I haven’t locked up my betting strategies but I expect to have win money on Dunkirk and Mr. Hot Stuff and then I’ll use Dunkirk heavily on top with the likes of MTB and MHS in the 2nd and 3rd positions and maybe Summer Bird in the bottom spot as well…
Annie More than 1 year ago
Van Savant, Welcome back! Sounds like you had a great trip. Building memories with your children is priceless. Fun for you too. :) Annie
Annie More than 1 year ago
Reinier, Bite your tongue! :) Annie
nick More than 1 year ago
Today in the 9th there are a lot of horses switching over from Dirt to Turf at Belmont. How do Dirt Horses fair on Wet Turf? Thanks, nick
BigEasyBigChok More than 1 year ago
Vicstu, I see Miners escape setting the pace with Charitable Man tracking and if fractions are 47+ and 112+ think CM swoops and draws off and Miners escape possibly hanging on for place with MTB flying late as usual but not quite getting there. Dunkirk is a puzzler for me and think he may challenge Miners escape for lead as he is coming from 2 hole. Hope he does as I think if he is on or close to lead he runs out of the money and that is the way I am playing the race. BigEasyBigChok
Calvin L. Carter More than 1 year ago
Handigambling 136 - Belmont Stakes In addition to #7 Mine That Bird, I believe that this Belmont is setting up nicely for the horses that I liked in the Kentucky Derby – #2 Dunkirk and #4 Summer Bird. Dunkirk should bounce back with a big race. He is much better than his Kentucky Derby indicated and that race is a toss out. Summer Bird is lightly raced but I believe that he has the potential to make a big move forward. He gets top-notch jockey Kent Desormeaux who is experienced at Belmont and he adds toe grabs and blinkers. Of the new runners, #6 Charitable Man is the most promising and he will most likely be in the exotics – if not in the winners circle. $8 W/P #4 = $16 $2 Exacta: 4/2-6-7 = $6 $2 Exacta: 2-6-7/4 = $6 $2 Trifecta Box: 2-4-6-7 = $48 $1 Superfecta Box: 2-4-6-7 = $24 Total Bet = $100
tinky More than 1 year ago
"AB picks Dunkirk to win Belmont Stakes based on his 108 BSF from GP" Excellent! I'd love to book his bet.
Keith Longey More than 1 year ago
Anybody: Any suggestions on the Wise Guy horse for the Belmont? How about the Bud Longshot of the day? Inquiring minds want to know! Who will the Hammer be picking?