Affirmed and Alydar. You cannot say the name of one of these magnificent thoroughbreds without including the other. No matter that Affirmed hit the wire first in eight out of the ten, their rivalry was as good as racing gets. Back then, their exploits drove the sport, and together their names made it into most every American household. Affirmed and Alydar will live on in history. Their pair of names will be tied as closely together as their noses were after twelve furlongs of an unforgettable edition of the Belmont Stakes. I still miss the amazing rivalry that was Affirmed and Alydar.
There have been some good ones since, and in fact two of the best included sons of Alydar. Alysheba had his Bet Twice, and Easy Goer went at it with Sunday Silence. More recently, a pair of California grays, named Silver Charm and Free House took pride in doing whatever they could to reach the wire in front of the other. Each of these rivalries thrilled racing fans with both their class, as well as, the consistency of their matchups. Battle lines were drawn, and when they raced, we rooted for either one or the other. I believe our sport is yearning for another great rivalry.
Havana and Honor Code met for the first time today in the Grade 1 Champagne. It marked each talented colt’s second lifetime start. Without gunning the hyperbole engine too hard, too fast … it was a bit of a classic. Havana’s early speed just being able to just make it to the wire in front of the oncoming stretch-running power of Honor Code.
Chances are, these two will not race each other six, eight, ten times in the next few years. Odds are slim that they will be battling it out in each leg of the 2014 Triple Crown. Affirmed and Alydar they will likely never be, but you know what? I really liked what I saw from both colts, and I just have a feeling that this was only chapter 1 of a brand new rivalry.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if thirty years from now a racing writer pined for the good old days of these two? Racing needs a rivalry like Havana and Honor Code.