I watched the Belmont Stakes this afternoon, and along with the rest of America watched Big Brown fail to win the race and actually come in last after being denied the Triple Crown win by 38-1 long-shot Da'Tara. As ABC reported during the race, the last Triple Crown winner was Affirmed in 1978. It's been 30 long years since a horse has been able to achieve this ultimate test of greatness, so I was curious about the last big winner. In an article on ABC.com I found that Affirmed had battled Alydar during most of the Belmont Stakes to win the race by a head at the very end. Affirmed and Alydar had built up quite a rivalry, as Alydar had come in second to Affirmed in each of the two preceding races--Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes--with Affirmed beating out Alydar, each time by a smaller margin. A couple other tidbits: Affirmed's jockey, Steve Cauthen, was only 18 when he rode Affirmed to the Triple Crown win, and Affirmed's win in 1978 right on the heels of Seattle Slew's win of the Triple Crown in 1977, marked the first and only time that there were back-to-back Triple Crown winners.
Here's a clip I found of the final Affirmed vs. Alydar battle at the 1978 Belmont Stakes which won Affirmed the Triple Crown.