A special guest with lasting ties to the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) added a large dose of class to the proceedings at the June 8 draw for the June 11 rendition of the classic.
Mrs. Patrice Wolfson was introduced to the gathering of horsemen and media as the first order of business at the draw at Belmont Park, and received a warm round of applause from the attendees as she made brief remarks at the podium.
Mrs. Wolfson co-owned the great Affirmed with her husband, the late Louis Wolfson, in the name of their Harbor View Farm. Affirmed in 1978 won the Triple Crown after a length-of-the-stretch battle at Belmont with his foil throughout the Triple Crown races, Alydar. No horse in the 33 ensuing years has been able to replicate Affirmed’s feat, as the Triple Crown has not been achieved since.
“There are times I still think about that race (Affirmed’s Belmont Stakes) every day,” noted Wolfson. “It is an indelible memory, especially considering the splendor of Belmont Park."
Wolfson talked about her great champion, recalling not only his run through the Triple Crown, but his campaign the following year as a 4-year-old.
"Nobody remembers what a great racehorse he was the following year," she said, "when he beat Spectacular Bid in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I)."
Wolfson added that perhaps horses were more rugged years ago in explaining why nobody has equaled Affirmed’s feat. “I think horses were tougher back then. I remember (trainer) Laz (Barrera) used to try to get a race into Affirmed two weeks before he was scheduled to run.”
Wolfson also made a plea that horsemen today remember those of years past.