Affirmed | Horse Profile

Horse > Affirmed


Triple Crown winner Affirmed won back-to-back Horse of the Year honors in 1978 and 1979.

Quick Career Stats for Omaha

  • Starts: 29
  • Wins: 22
  • Places: 5
  • Shows: 1
  • Earnings: $2,393,818
Affirmed Pedigree
Raise a Native (1961)
Exclusive Native (1965)
Exclusive (1953)
Affirmed (1975)
Crafty Admiral (1958)
Won't Tell You (1962)
Scarlet Ribbon (1957)

How did Affirmed win the Triple Crown?

  • The Kentucky Derby
    • Though famous for his neck-and-neck duels with Alydar, Affirmed had a relatively easy time edging his talented rival in the Kentucky Derby. Always prominent under 18-year-old jockey Steve Cauthen, Affirmed tracked fractions of :22 3/5, :45 3/5, and 1:10 4/5, took the lead in the homestretch, and held on resolutely under urging to beat the late-charging Alydar by 1 1/2 lengths in 2:01 1/5.
  • The Preakness Stakes
    • Whereas Seattle Slew won the Preakness with an early duel for supremacy, Affirmed had to save his fighting spirit for the homestretch. After carving out steady fractions of :23 3/5, :47 3/5, and 1:11 4/5, the Derby winner dug deep when challenged by longtime rival and Alydar and grittily held on by a neck in 1:54 2/5.
  • The Belmont Stakes
    • There was never a more dramatic duel in the Belmont Stakes than the epic showdown between Affirmed and his persistent rival Alydar. Though Alydar tried his hardest to spoil the show, grinding away at Affirmed’s advantage through the final mile, the legendary tenacity of front-running Affirmed carried the 3-5 favorite to victory by a resolute head in 2:26 4/5.

Who was Affirmed?

Only a total of 12 horses have won the Triple Crown series, winning the Kentucky Derby (G1), Preakness Stakes (G1), and Belmont Stakes (G1) in the same year. It’s an exclusive, hard to get into club. What’s interesting is that the first eight Triple Crown winners came between 1919 to 1948, with four occurring from 1941 to 1948.

The next Triple Crown winner, Secretariat, didn’t accomplish the feat until 1973. Then we had back-to-back Triple Crown victors in 1977 and 1978 in Seattle Slew and Affirmed, respectively. The first and only time it’s happened in Triple Crown history. Affirmed got to hold onto the title of last Triple Crown winner for 37 years, until American Pharoah became the most recent Triple Crown winner.

Foaled on February 21, 1975, Affirmed’s storybook career didn’t take long to get off the ground. He won his maiden his first time out – a maiden special weight race at Belmont Park on May 24, 1977. He would go onto win or place second in his next 19 races. An impressive feat of performances that included 15 total wins, 12 graded stakes wins, 8 grade one wins, and of course, the Triple Crown.

Other than winning each leg of the Triple Crown in 1978, Affirmed will also be remembered for his rivalry with Alydar. The duo finished 1-2 nine times (Affirmed winning six of them), including all three legs of the 1978 Triple Crown, which saw Affirmed win the Kentucky Derby by 1 ½ lengths, the Preakness by a neck, and the Belmont by a head.

“They were so much better than the other horses that raced against them and that made the rivalry something very, very, special. I think it will resonate with people 100 years from now. Without a question it’s still the biggest rivalry in horse racing,” said Affirmed jockey Steve Cauthen, who rode him for all three legs of the 1978 Triple Crown.

Affirmed would retire having won 22 of his 29 career races, and finished second in an additional five. He earned $2,393,818 during his career. Among his top accomplishments, other than winning the Triple Crown in 1978, saw Affirmed win five Eclipse Awards, including being named Horse of the Year in back-to-back years (1978 and 1979). He was named to the United States Racing Hall of Fame in 1980. Affirmed was euthanized in 2001 at the age of 25 after dealing with a serious case of laminitis.

More rare photos of Affirmed

Affirmed at the 1978 Preakness Stakes. (Keeneland Library Thoroughbred Times Collection) This image is protected by copyright and may not be reproduced in print or electronically without written permission of the Keeneland Library.

Video of Affirmed