Milt Toby

On This Day...

April 27, 1978

Unlike Affirmed, who was at Churchill Downs awaiting the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), Alydar had one race to go.

The Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) April 27 at Keeneland was Alydar's final prep, and a victory would be the colt's fourth in as many starts for the year. A triumph would go a long way in making him the Derby favorite.

The Blue Grass had a bit of sentimentality attached to it. During the post parade, jockey Jorge Velasquez guided Alydar close to the rail where the colt's owners, Adm. Gene Markey and his wife, Lucille, both of whom were in their eighties, were positioned. It turned out to be their last trip to the track. As if on cue, Alydar put his right foot out and his left front back, then bowed to Lucille Markey.

Judging from Alydar's dominance over his Blue Grass rivals, the genuflection was probably the hardest thing the colt accomplished all day. Alydar won by 13 lengths, after which Edward L. Bowen of the The Blood-Horse wrote, "It had been a tremendous exhibition of superiority, an eye-catching performance of a brilliant horse against lesser ones."

Alydar went off the Derby favorite, but couldn't catch Affirmed and finished second. Affirmed beat his rival again in the Preakness before the two staged the race of a lifetime in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I), with Affirmed winning by a head and completing the Triple Crown.

Click here to read more about this Thoroughbred Legend in Affirmed and Alydar -- available now from