By Lou Sahadi
Thomas Dunne Books, $14.99, 280 pages
Affirmed is an insider look at the 1978 racing season. This narrative showcases two outstanding horses pitted against each other, Affirmed and Alydar. As two year olds, both established commanding presence in a decade of fine race horses. Their next season featured the last Triple Crown win between 1978 and the present. Winning times have not much changed in the current 30 years without a Triple Crown winner, so background about the horses, their trainers and their jockeys are key to putting results in context. Steve Cauthen’s introduction and quotes from trainers, owners and jockeys add to the portrait of the time.
The statistics of Affirmed and Alydar’s races are amazing in and of themselves. The fact that Affirmed was ridden by jockey Steve Cauthen, who was only 18 years old at the time of the Triple Crown win, makes the story even more astonishing. History of legendary horses, owners, stables and trainers adds to the interest of this book. The book contains a handful of pictures of Affirmed and Alydar, and showing the Belmont’s close finish. Despite the interest of the story, the discriminating reader may find the literary aspects of the book lacking.
Reviewed by Brenda Searle