MORE THAN A RUNNER-UP

June 18, 1978

Alydar's trainer John Veitch was back at the colt's barn several hours after the Belmont, free at last from the pressing crowds. The sun was turning orange and Veitch was turning mellow as he leaned over a railing. "You live in hopes, you die in despair." he mused. "That's why I'm not much for carrying around disappointments. I'm just looking forward to tomorrow." Indeed, it would be a pity if Alydar should be chiefly remembered as the only horse to finish second in all three Triple Crown races to a Triple Crown winner, and if John Veitch should be remembered as the trainer with the same distinction.

If ever a man had cause to hurry off to solitude and head-holding, it would be Veitch. But that wouldn't be Veitch. For, all spring, the 32-year-old trainer has been a paragon of deportment and full of irrepressible humor.

Question: John, do you think Alydar knows he keeps losing to Affirmed?

Answer: He hasn't said anything about it to me.

After the Derby, the interminable queries dwelled on whether Alydar would ever beat Affirmed again. After the Preakness, the question was whether Alydar's heart had been broken. Said Veitch. "He doesn't go back to his stall and hang his head. He doesn't sit there like some football player and say, 'Oh damn. I got to go out there Saturday against Affirmed and bang heads.' Actually, we turned his television set off so he wouldn't hear all the negative comments. He's mad, though. He misses the cartoons."

After the Belmont, most reporters left Veitch alone. But he spoke of sending Alydar against Affirmed again later in the year and he talked about what he had just been through: "If you don't know how to lose, you'd better not play this game. You lose many more than you win. You can't be hysterical. I did the very best I could. And Alydar ran great. Maybe they should charge extra for the thrills. But if you don't get used to accepting defeat, it will drive you crazy. I learned from my father that you should lose the same way you win. And I think you show more class in the way you act when you lose than when you win."

Then Veitch, subscribing to his theory that the nicest thing about sports is that, win or lose, most everybody goes and has a drink afterward, was off for a Jack Daniels on the rocks. But not before whispering to Alydar. "We'll always be friends." And in the gathering dusk, both looked like prime candidates to rise up from the ashes and win again; neither really seems properly cast as second best forevermore.

PHOTO

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)