Harbor View Farm's Affirmed, throughbred racing's all-time money winner whose duels with Alydar are regarded among the greatest in history, has been retired, trainer Laz Barrera announced today.
"He had done everything, proven everything," said Barrera of racing's 11th Triple Crown winner. "We want him to leave racing the same way he came in, sound and perfect."
Barrera made the announcement at Aqueduct after consulting with the colt's owner, Louis Wolfson. It came as somewhat of a surprise since the 4-year old son of Exclusive Native had been expected to run Saturday in the $250,000 Turf Classic at Aqueduct.
Affirmed, who was syndicated for a then-record $14.4 million last year, will be shipped to Spendthrift Farm in Lexington, Ky., for stud duty Dec. 1.
Affirmed earned $2,393,818 with 22 victories (19 stakes), five seconds and one third in 29 starts. He finished out of the money only once, in the 1978 Jockey Club Gold Cup, when his saddle slipped and he was fourth.
He avenged that defeat in this year's Gold Cup Oct. 6 at Belmont Park when he scored by three-quarters of a length over Spectacular Bid, the 1979 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner. The race was his last start and apparently wrapped up his second straight Horse of the Year title.
Spectacular Bid's trainer, Bud Delp, reacted with bitterness and disappointment at the announcement that Affirmed had retired.
"It looks like they're running scared to me," said delp from his home in Maryland. "Affirmed is going into hidding. The whole world is waiting for a match race and they're pulling out.
"I thought they were better sports that that. I guess they're ready to concede Horse of the Year honors to Bid."
Affirmed will be best remembered for his stirring battles with Calumet Farm's Alydar, a late-charger who finished second in all three Triple Crown races -- the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes. The margins were 1 1/2 lengths, a neck and a head, respectively.
They met 10 times as 2- and 3- year-olds. Affirmed won in seven of those meetings. Alydar beat Affirmed twice in the Travers Stakes at Saratoga when Affirmed was disqualified from first and placed second to Alydar.
"He did not like grass," Barrera said, a day after giving Affirmed his first formal workout on the grass in preparation for the Turf Classic. "It would not be fair for the horse or the public for him to compete.
"He is the soundest horse I ever trained and the most intelligent, smarter than most humans."