Writing Sample: 1978 Triple Crown

​I am seeking an agent for my new book for middle grade readers about the 1978 Triple Crown. This is the introductory chapter.

Who Were Affirmed and Alydar?

Steve Cauthen was the top jockey in America at the age of 17. At 18, he won the most important horse race in America, the Kentucky Derby. Two weeks later, he won the Preakness Stakes. He only had to win one more race for his horse to become the Triple Crown champion. That race, the Belmont Stakes, was held three weeks later. 

Steve’s friend Jorge “Georgie” Velasquez came in second in both races. Georgie had been the top jockey a few years before. He liked how Steve handled pressure and how he treated other people. Georgie became Steve’s mentor. He gave Steve a lot of good advice. But when it came time to race, Georgie wanted to win.

Racing fans were very excited about these two jockeys. But they were even more excited about the horses they rode, Affirmed and Alydar. These horses are famous for their rivalry. In their first year of racing, Alydar was the only horse that could beat Affirmed. Fans came to expect that whenever they raced, they would place first and second. Affirmed won most of their races, but Alydar won the last one. Georgie said Alydar was the best horse he ever rode. The six most important participants in this rivalry—Affirmed, Alydar, Steve, Georgie and the horses’ two trainers—went on to be honored in the Racing Hall of Fame. The highlight of these six outstanding careers was the 1978 Triple Crown season, especially the third race, the Belmont Stakes. The race was a mile and a half long, but the difference between first and second was a few inches.

The best photograph of two Thoroughbreds racing was taken during this race. Affirmed and Alydar are headed right at the photographer. They are barely inches apart, eyeball to eyeball. While the sky behind them is bright, daylight barely shows between their boots. They are running as hard as possible. Even after racing more than a mile, they do not look tired. The horses’ eyes and nostrils flare and their ears stand erect. The jockeys are bent forward to reduce wind resistance. Dirt from the track flies up from the horses’ hooves. Between the horse’s legs, beyond the flying dirt, you can see the other horses. They are far back and out of focus.

This is the story of horse racing’s greatest rivalry.

Peter V. Tamas is author of With Seabiscuit and War Admiral at The Race of the Century , available on Amazon and as an Apple iBook. 

Thoroughbred Racing History