The following column, “He Was Named for Aly, Darling,” by Red Smith, the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, appeared in The New York Times on March 24, 1978, and is from “To the Swift: Classic Triple Crown Horses and Their Race for Glory” (St. Martin’s Press), edited by Joe Drape.
HIALEAH, Fla. — The tack boxes spaced along the shedrow at Barn AA are painted red and blue, the devil’s red and deep blue of Calumet Farm’s racing silks. These are the colors Whirlaway and Citation carried when they swept the Triple Crown races of 1941 and 1948. They are the colors flown by Pensive and Ponder and Hill Gail and Iron Liege and Tim Tam when those good ones dashed home first in the Kentucky Derby.
The red and blue silks have never disappeared from the winner’s circle, but after a disqualification made by Forward Pass the farm’s eighth Derby winner, they were seen there less and less frequently until last year. In 1977, Calumet’s Our Mims was the best 3-year-old filly in the country and her young stablemate, Alydar, just missed out as the champion 2-year-old. Beaten out by Affirmed in that election, the colt came back this year to win Hialeah’s Flamingo Stakes like breaking sticks, and—with Affirmed spending the winter in California—consolidated his position as the Eastern favorite for the Derby. He will hold that rank until April 1, at least, that being the date of the Florida Derby at Gulfstream, his next assignment.