The Year was 1978

Alydar and Affirmed at Belmont in 1978

The 1978 Belmont – the third leg of the Triple Crown – saw two great horses fighting it out. Affirmed had just barely beaten Alydar in the Kentucky Derby and then again in the Preakness. Affirmed won – becoming the Triple Crown winner. But it was Alydar, the fabulous horse from Lexington Kentucky’s fabled Calumet Farms, who became the horse that sired winner after winner. And that spelled his doom.

William and Lucille Wright

Calumet Farms, started in 1924 by William Wright, founder of the Calumet Baking Powder Company, rose to the top. When his granddaughter, Lucille Wright Markey died at 85 in 1982, the farm passed to her granddaughter Cindy and Cindy’s husband, John Thomas “J.T.” Lundy.

Lucille Wright Markey in trophy room

The son of a tenant farmer, Lundy had bragged he would one day run Calumet. Lucille disliked Lundy, but he sweet-talked Cindy into marrying him. She was 16, he was 21. Finally, at 41, Lundy saw his dream come true – he and Cindy inherited Calumet with zero debt. It took Lundy only a few years of wild spending to run up more than $120 million in debts.

Trophy Room at Calumet Farms

At the end of 1990, Lundy was looking at a $15 million payment due in February, 1991. Worse, the insurer of his golden stud, Alydar, was canceling the policy on December 31 for non-payment of premiums. Even with his $250,000 stud fees, Alydar was looking better to Lundy as a $36.5 million insurance payoff. But it would have to be soon, before the policy was canceled.

J.T. Lundy holds Alydar

On Nov. 14, Alydar was dead, put down after breaking a leg – twice – in his stall, first on the evening of the 13th and again the next morning. For the horse to break his hind leg like that, Alydar would have had to kick his stall with three times the maximum power the strongest horse could exert.

Alydar

In the fraud investigation, the prosecution believed that the great horse had his leg tied to a truck and broken. The vet said, when he put him down, Alydar’s eyes were trying to comprehend what was happening to him.

T. Lundy went to prison for fraud for four years. The banker got 34 years for fraud. Calumet Farm filed for bankruptcy in 1992 and was sold at auction for $17 million, saving it from liquidation. The murder of Alydar was never charged to anyone. At least not legally

The winning margin in the Belmont Stakes.

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