The front-running little chestnut had already narrowly beaten his adversary, Alydar, in both the Derby and the Preakness before going hammer and tongs with him again. Alydar let Affirmed get away with soft early fractions (the half mile went in a plodding :50) but still got a head in front in mid-stretch. Undaunted, Affirmed battled back to win by a head in the final act of the series's most famous rivalry.
The big red colt's unearthly 31-length victory not only clinched the Triple Crown, but it also stands as the greatest accomplishment in the history of the sport. Secretariat led from the first call, ran the first 10 furlongs in 1:59—two fifths of a second faster than his Derby—and finished in a world-record 2:24 for the 1½ miles. In 40 years no horse has come close to that mark.