The Last Crown Winner
I know it may
be perhaps a bit too soon for Triple Crown fever, but I can't help
but get excited already. And in that case, I've caught the flu.
All of this
excitement has gotten me thinking of the last Triple Crown winner and
the qualities he had that horses must not have today. Speed,
strength, and stamina came into my mind at first, but then I dug
deeper and took a closer look at his classic wins in the Derby,
Preakness, and Belmont.
In 35 years,
every horse that has run in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and
Belmont Stakes has failed to do what Affirmed did so many years ago.
The son of Exclusive Native out of Won't Tell You won a hard fought
Triple Crown over the tough-hearted Alydar, who will never be
forgotten for his will to challenge this champion.
Kentucky Derby, Affirmed first sprang out of the gates to emerge
second, but then settled back into 3rd behind the two pace
setters, Sensitive Prince and Raymond Earl. Meanwhile, Alydar lacked
behind by 17 lengths. No horse can make that up, spectators and even
fans of his thought. Not unless that horse is Silky Sullivan.
Prince gave way to such a hot pace, Believe It took over the lead at
the 6 furlong mark. At the mile pole, Affirmed dragged Cauthen (his
jockey for the race and many more) up to the leader and drew even. He
took the lead and began to “prick his ears like he always does,”
Steve Cauthen would later say. Finally, Alydar showed up on the scene
and over took many lengths as fast as he could. At last, it was a
show between the two top 3 year olds at the moment. The two barreled
across the line, with Affirmed 1 ½ lengths ahead of his nearest
the Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the legendary Triple Crown,
Affirmed was easily guided to the lead after a few lengths of the
start. After 6 furlongs had gone by, Affirmed lounged on an almost
effortless length lead. Noon Time Spender, a 81-1 long shot, tested
Affirmed as Believe It settled for 3rd. Now, Alydar was
only 4 ½ lengths behind the Kentucky Derby winner, in comparison to
his 17 length disadvantage in his previous race. Eventually, Alydar
snuck his way up Affirmed, now in the stretch and only a half length
apart. Alydar was only able to gain so many lengths before the wire
came, catching him a neck behind Affirmed's nose.
Belmont: perhaps America's toughest race to win, was now all Affirmed
had to win to become a legend in himself. When no horse came up to
set the pace, Affirmed took to the job. Heading into the backstretch,
Alydar came up to Affirmed and glared him down. Then he drew up to
him, and the pair never separated for the rest of the race. They
raced into the backstretch, and at the wire, Affirmed came out a nose
in front, making history by a nose.
all of his races, Triple Crown or not, this horse has showed one
thing: courage. Many horses are too shy to take a rail spot or even
race, but this was not the case with Affirmed. He hated to let any
horse by him, and it showed in his races. This and, along with good
bones and breeding, helped this horse become a champion on American
all things said, I've come up with the conclusion that one of the
things that separated him from the horses today was not physical, but
rather mental. The latest Triple Crown winner had the utter will to
win, and couldn't handle defeat. So, you decide. What is it that has
caused the Triple Crown drought? No stamina? Weaker bones? A curse?
Regardless of your choice, I know I've satisfied myself with my
Written by Madison Jackson