Pincay, seemingly convinced that Alydar would run at him from the outside, appeared to panic when he saw Velasquez coming on the inside. He headed Affirmed toward the rail and shut Alydar off. At that moment, Alydar was within a neck of Affirmed. As Affirmed veered in, Velasquez yanked on the reins, violently twisting Alydar's head. The jockey was nearly pitched from his horse. Alydar, upon being pulled up so abruptly, struck the rail and lost his action, dropping six lengths behind. Somehow Velasquez got him back in gear and running once more around the turn and into the stretch, closing the gap to only a length. But he could get no closer, and at the finish Affirmed was 1� lengths in front.
Immediately the "inquiry" light was flashed and the stewards looked at the race film. It showed Pincay's move to the rail to be so sudden as to stop Alydar cold—a flagrant foul. "I thought I was going down," Velasquez said later. "I was in a very, very bad spot. I just about lost my right iron and didn't think I'd be able to get myself straightened out."
When the two horses returned to the front of the stands, the crowd didn't know what to think. It certainly wasn't the race it had come out in record numbers to see. Affirmed was disqualified and placed second, while Alydar's number was punched up on the tote. Boos resounded. Veitch accepted congratulations and quickly left the winner's circle.
He looked at his horse as he was being led back to the stable. Alydar had a bruise on his right front leg and cuts on both front legs. Veitch was furious.
"Pincay should get 30 days on bread and water," he fumed. "I think he knew he blew the race and panicked. There is no place on a racetrack for any rider who does that. No, I'm not happy winning this way. It's hollow as hell. Do you realize that one of the best horses to come along in years was almost killed out there in front of the biggest crowd in Saratoga history?"
Pincay, naturally, was all innocence. "I did not think there was enough room for him to get through," he said. "He was going through a blind spot."
Barrera sat in his box watching the ninth race. He was livid and he intimated strongly that Cordero and Velasquez, two close friends, had conspired to get Affirmed beaten. "Alydar don't got no business to be in there on the rail if he don't know Cordero going to open inside for him," Barrera said. "My horse was head and head with Cordero's horse and all of a sudden the other horse took my horse out and delivered [the rail] to Alydar."
Cordero denied the charge. "My horse was bearing out almost all the way around," he said. " Barrera can say whatever he wants to say. All you have to do is look at the film."
"I don't plan to run no more against Alydar," Barrera said.
Veitch read an account of Barrera's remarks in the dusk by his barn as he watched Alydar being cooled out. He read it at least three times, thought and said, "That's chicken. If Alydar is O.K. he'll be in the Marlboro Cup. Who the hell is Barrera to say that Velasquez couldn't go on the inside? Does he own the race track?"