LEXINGTON, Ky. — Alydar, runner-up to Affirmed in three memorable 1978 Triple Crown races and sire of such thoroughbred greats as Alysheba and Easy Goer, was humanely destroyed today at Calumet Farm after fracturing his leg.
The 15-year-old chestnut kicked his stall door earlier in the week and fractured the cannon bone, just above the ankle, on his right hind leg.
Doctors tried to repair the damage but he reinjured the leg in the same place today and was destroyed, the farm said.
The stallion was killed by injection at 8 a.m. and buried later in the morning on the sprawling Calumet Farm grounds where he was born and became one of racing's finest sires.
The farm announced Alydar's death in a one-sentence statement and said he was buried near two Triple Crown winners--Whirlaway and Citation.
Alydar went into shock Tuesday after fracturing the leg when he kicked his stable door. Drs. William Baker and Larry Bramlage operated Wednesday and placed the horse in a fiberglass cast.
His condition at the time was pronounced guarded. But after sustaining another injury today there was no hope.
"He was in recovery when it happened," a spokeswoman said.
John Veitch, Alydar's former trainer, said he will always remember Alydar as a champion.
"All my memories of him are great, even through the defeats," Veitch said by telephone from Miami. "He never gave up on anything."
Alydar and Affirmed began their epic duel in their 2-year-old season, and the rivalry culminated in pitched battles in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes. Affirmed won all three races by a total of less than three lengths in the almost four miles of the series.
Alydar, a son of Raise a Native out of Sweet Tooth, won 14 of 26 career starts and $957,195.
Alydar had quite a few notable victories, including the Florida Derby, Blue Grass Stakes and Arlington Stakes. He finally beat Affirmed in the 1978 Travers, although Alydar was still unable to get his nose in front at the wire. Affirmed was disqualified and placed second for interfering with Alydar on the backstretch.
In breeding statistics through Oct. 29, Alydar is this year's leading stallion, his progeny having earned $5.8 million in purses.
Alydar has twice been the nation's second-leading sire, and he's finished in third place two times. His offspring have included Alysheba, Easy Goer, Althea, Miss Oceana, Turkoman and Criminal Type. Alysheba, who earned a record $6.6 million, was voted horse of the year in 1988 and Criminal Type is a candidate for national honors this year.
Alydar's death was the latest in a long string of racing tragedies, beginning with the death of 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat last October.
Just three weeks ago in the Breeders' Cup, three horses died in two separate racing disasters. In the most heart-rending, the brilliant 3-year-old filly Go For Wand was destroyed by lethal injection in front of the grandstand at Belmont Park after she shattered her ankle in the final yards of her duel with Bayakoa in the Distaff.