GIVEN TO TRAINER LAZARO BARRERA FOR THOROUGHBRED’S HISTORIC 1978 WINS
Racing fans nearly 40 years ago witnessed the culmination of an epic rivalry when a stallion named Affirmed faced off against the celebrated Alydar and emerged victorious – winning the elusive Triple Crown.
The initially docile chestnut colt began his stellar rise in 1977, entering the 1978 season with less attention than Alydar from the storied Calumet Farm, according to the book Affirmed: The Last Triple Crown Winner (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2012). “Yet under trainer Laz Barrera’s careful strategy,” the book notes, “… Affirmed bested his rival and mesmerized even the most casual of sports fans.”
On the 40th anniversary of Affirmed’s legendary win, Heritage Auctions is offering the Triple Crown Trophy presented that year to Hall of Fame trainer Lazaro Barrera. It’s expected to sell for at least $250,000.
What makes this trophy so attractive is the back-story of Racing Hall Of Fame trainer Barrera, says Heritage Auctions sports collectibles consignment director Calvin Arnold. “Barrera was a Cuban-born trainer who was one of the country’s most respected young trainers,” Arnold says. Seeking increased opportunities in a larger market, Barrera in the 1940s moved to Mexico to race horses at the Hipodromo de las Americas in Mexico City.
There, he met California trainer Hal King, who encouraged him to come to the United States. After numerous impressive wins, Barrera took charge of a horse named Affirmed, who would become one of the great horses in American racing history by placing first in 1978’s Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes. Affirmed’s title as the last horse to win the Triple Crown was ended in 2015 by American Pharoah.
The Triple Crown Trophy, created by the Cartier Jewelry Company, represents the pinnacle achievement in horseracing. “And 1978 was not just for the record books,” Arnold says. “It was one of the greatest dramas ever played out in the racing world. This auction gives sports and horseracing fans a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to obtain an iconic piece of sports and American history.”
Barrera, who died in 1991, won 2,269 races and had purse earnings of more than $49 million, making him one of the greatest horse trainers to ever grace the sport. The trophy has been signed under the base by Hall of Fame jockey Steve Cauthen.