The epic saga of the riveting rivalry that enthralled a nation and spawned history’s most thrilling Triple Crown chase.
Affirmed and Alydar are as inseparably linked in legend as they were on the racetrack. Bound from conception by shared bloodlines of the great Native Dancer, this peerless pair of chestnut colts traded wins multiple times even before their showdown in the 1978 Kentucky Derby spurred an unmatchable rivalry that transcended the Triple Crown and the Sport of Kings itself.
Their intertwined tale is a study in contrasts as stark as David and Goliath. If Alydar and his human connections personified racing royalty, Affirmed and his team embodied all the underdog outsiders who’ve had to claw their way into the winner’s circle.
Alydar was born into Bluegrass aristocracy as the royally bred pride of Kentucky’s Calumet Farm, the old-money dynasty that had reigned over the Sport of Kings the same way the Damn Yankees dominated the national pastime. Affirmed, meanwhile, was born into the obscurity of a Florida farm funded by the new-money millions of a controversial Wall Street financier turned nouveau breeder. Contrasting styles made their differences even starker: the laidback Affirmed, all streamlined elegance, gliding with the grace of a deer and the heart of lion, versus the bullish Alydar, all massive muscle and machismo, stalking his nemesis while gearing up to unleash his fearsome closing kick.
Riding on their backs were the dreams of colorful human personalities caught up in a battle of wits and wills: Lucille Markey, racing’s grand dame entrusting her last chance at restoring Calumet’s faded glory to John Veitch, a young Kentucky-bred trainer with a Hall of Fame pedigree. Lou Wolfson, the pioneer corporate raider staking his post-prison shot at redemption on journeyman trainer Laz Barrera, a charismatic Cuban immigrant with a knack for charming the best out of longshots like Affirmed. And, most famously, Steve Cauthen, the teen phenom celebrated as the world’s top athlete even before riding Affirmed into the Triple Crown cauldron.
The Kentucky Derby may be hyped as “the most exciting two minutes in sports,” but Affirmed and Alydar’s electrifying stretch showdowns only kept intensifying through both remaining jewels—the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes—of history’s hardest-fought Triple Crown series. Duel for the Crown vividly tracks these two magnificent Thoroughbreds through every hoofbeat of their odyssey, climaxing with the Belmont stretch duel in the greatest race ever run as they desperately gallop head to head all the way to the inevitable photo finish—and beyond, into history and immortality.
Linda Carroll and David Rosner are experienced journalists who have co-authored three acclaimed nonfiction books. They won the 2018 Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award for Out of the Clouds: The Unlikely Horseman and the Unwanted Colt Who Conquered the Sport of Kings.
Carroll is a Peabody Award–winning writer who covers health and medicine for NBC News and whose work has appeared in the New York Times and other prestigious publications. An accomplished equestrian who owns and operates Fiery Run Farm in New Jersey, she brings three decades of experience in breeding, training, and showing her Arabian and Oldenburg sport horses.
Rosner has worked as a sportswriter and editor whose articles have appeared in major metro newspapers and national magazines. At Newsday, where he earned national Associated Press Sports Editors awards, he was introduced to turf writing when his first bylined stories chronicled the harrowing 1977 Belmont Park spill that hospitalized wunderkind jockey Steve Cauthen.
A riveting account.
A well-researched and entertaining chronicle of race horses Affirmed and Alydar...recommended for all horse racing fans.
If you’ve read their riveting Out of the Clouds, you’re already aware how Linda Carroll and David Rosner can weave a tale and keep you enthralled, and you’ll definitely want to read their first racing book, Duel for the Crown. Carroll and Rosner, who can make history come alive, have taken a rivalry that all racing fans, young and old, are familiar with and, like Out of the Clouds, turned it into a spellbinding adventure of two horses who provided the racing world with some of the most intense battles of all time. When you are finished, you will know more about Affirmed and Alydar than you could ever have imagined.
As sensitive as a novel, but with the authors' steely devotion to fact, Duel for the Crown is a bracing gift to anyone lured by the unique romance of horse racing. Even to someone who covered the Affirmed–Alydar rivalry, this volume adds knowledge and insights while summoning a fount of memory.
Duel for the Crown is practically the perfect horse racing history book. It is both authoritative and endlessly interesting, a highly readable combination of diligently researched facts and well-told tales that kept this racing fan entertained from beginning to end. Whether you watched the dramatic Affirmed–Alydar rivalry unfold in person or are learning about it here for the first time, you've come to the right place. Linda Carroll and David Rosner have beautifully captured it in a book that refuses to be closed until the reader has enjoyed the final paragraph.
A man in search of redemption. A legendary stable seeking a return to its glory days. Two horses locked in battle down the stretch to immortality, theirs a rivalry that would come to define an era. Duel for the Crown not only recounts the story of Affirmed and Alydar, exploring the rich history of breeding and racing that created them and their epic confrontations on the racetrack, but also is a snapshot of a golden age in the sport, a decade of champions unlike any other. This portrait of an epic rivalry is a must-read for anyone who loves going deeper into the stories of familiar champions.