Patrice Wolfson, an affable lady, named the horse Affirmed, with Affectionately in mind, and she is affatuated with him.
"The only trouble is, I sometimes get him mixed up with Affiliate," trainer Liz Barrera acknowledged yesterday at Pilmlico. "When I filled out the nomination blank for the Preakness I started writing 'Affil . . .' until I caught myself. I don't know. If these people keep naming their horses with Aff, I'm in trouble."
Affiliate is a 4-year-old of outstanding achievement. Affirmed, a champion at 2, is a 3-year-old with the Kentucky Derby safely behind him on the way to the Triple Crown.
"He gave notice of being special early," Lou Wolfson said. "On the farm in Florida, in the fields, the other yearlings were always quick to make room for him when he wanted through."
"We wanted a strong name for him," Mrs. Wolfson added.
They should, perhaps, have named him Affabrous or Affettuso, or, better yet, Affluent. Affirmed has earned $887,027. He has an affimity, obviously, for money.
"If he wins here, and the Belmont, and then the Swaps in California and a race or two in the fall he could be as high (earn) as a a million and a half as a 3-year-old. A horse has never done that," Barrera noted.
Should that happen, Affirmed would be affordable to few. Wolfson turned down $8 million for the handsome chestnut colt before he started his 1978 campaign.
Wolfson and big money go together. His Harbor View Farm was successful almost from the start, and while the owner may have had his troubles along the way with the Securities Exchange Commission and in forgetting Garwol, he has become an outspoken critic of "the system" in recent years and a man vitally interested in the future of thoroughbred racing.
His wife is the former Patric Jacobs. While Wolfson started his racing stable from the top, her father, Hirsch Jacobs, began at the bottom by raising pigeons in New York City. Charlie Hatton repeatedly referred to Jacobs as the "emancipator of the plater," but the redhead was more than that. Much more. No man ever has a better way with a horse.
"Dad would have loved this one," Patrice Wolfson said yesterday. "He would have loved his color (chestnut), his disposition, his businesslike character and, above all, his cate-like way of going.
"Dad loved to run his horses, and he sometimes was criticized for running them too frequently. Which is another reason he would have loved Affirmed. This horse is iron. All you have to do is look at his record. Affirmed ran in one of the first 2-year-old races run in New York last year, in June. He handled any kind of track, in new York or California, and he won in various ways."
It sounds as though Affirmed already has earned as special a place in Patrice Wolfson's life as Affectionately, the wonderfully fast mare which earned the national spring championship for the Jacobs family in 1965.
"We now own Affectionately, at Habor View," she said. "Last year we bred her to Exclusive Native, Affirmed's fire. My family always kept naming horses for me. There was Sweet Patrice, Our Patrice, Darlin Patrice and an early filly, Pheecia, because my young brother couldn't say Patrice.
"Then Affectionately came along, and she was so special. I remember when Richard Reeves painted her she had her little foal with her, a son of Hail To Reason, the best 2-year-old Dad ever had. It was her first foal. Reeves didn't want the foal in the painting. Dad said no, this was the finest foal he had ever seen. The foal stayed in the picture."
Indeed it did. Two years later Hirsch Jacobs made his final trip to Laurel. His son, John, was saddling High Echelon for the Futurity. High Echelon won, but Hirsch was till talking about Affectionately's first foal.
"Look at this picture," he said to friends in the Laurel paddock that day, displaying a snapshot in his wallet. "This is the horse you will be hearing from."
"Personality was turned out on our farm in Maryland at Stymie Manor at the time," John Jacobs recalled. "Personality had started once by then and lost, in New York, and had ankle trouble. High Echelon won the Futurity, but Dad still didn't want to talk about the grey colt. That was the last major stake he saw us win."
Hirsch Jacobs died that winter. The next spring Personality won the Preakness. High Echelon, in Personality's absence, took the Belmont three weeks later.
That's the way it was in 1970. Now Darlin Patrice is back at Pimlico, pretty as ever, hoping Affirmed can win the 103rd affair without affronting Alydar.
"We have reserved several more names beginning with 'aff' with the Jockey Club for the future," the lady informed.
Poor Barrera. His alphabetical index is about to become terribly lopsided. But he'll worry about that later, after Affirmed wins the Preakness. Of that the trainer is confident.