LAUREL -- Alydar, famous as the consistent but narrow loser to Affirmed throughout the 1978 Triple Crown series, was humanely destroyed yesterday morning at Calumet Farm in Lexington, Ky., after suffering a second life-threatening injury.
He first was injured when he kicked the door of his stall Tuesday and suffered a mid-shaft transverse fracture of the cannon bone of his right hind leg.
The fracture ran across the bone and was halfway between the ankle and the hock, which is the major joint midway up the leg.
Drs. Larry Bramlage and William Baker operated on the leg Wednesday morning.
Bramlage said the injury was "a terrible fracture," with the bone penetrating the skin. He said a small plate, five pins and a fiberglass cast were used on the fracture.
"Everything went so well that we were optimistic we could get him through," Bramlage said.
By 1:30 p.m., Alydar was able to stand with the assistance of a sling.
"He began resenting the sling [Wednesday] night and was tranquilized," Bramlage said. "[Yesterday], it was either maintain him in a tranquilized state -- and he was starting to show signs of colic -- or wean him out of the sling. Fifteen minutes after it [the sling] was off, he slipped and fell, breaking his right femur."
Alydar was humanely destroyed by lethal injection at 8:30 a.m. yesterday.
He lost seven of 10 races to Affirmed over his career in 1977 and 1978, and picked up a label of being a great runner-up. Affirmed won the Kentucky Derby by 1 1/2 lengths, the Preakness by a neck and the Belmont Stakes by a head. When Alydar finally beat Affirmed as a 3-year-old, it was by disqualification in the Travers Stakes.
At stud, however, Alydar outclassed Affirmed by siring champions such as Alysheba, Easy Goer, Turkoman and Althea. He also is the sire of Criminal Type, the likely Horse of the Year for 1990.
Alydar won 14 of 26 career starts and earned $957,195 on the track. At stud, he was the nation's second-ranked sire for the past two years. His offspring had earned more than $6 million this year, second to Fappiano.
The 15-year-old stallion was buried at Calumet Farm, next to a memorial of all the great champions to come from there in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s.
John Veitch, who trained Alydar, recognized the colt's greatness and continued to believe the Calumet star was equal to Affirmed.
"All my memories of him are great," Veitch told The Associated Press. "He never gave up on anything."
Veitch trained the colt for Mrs. Lucille Markey, owner of Calumet. When Mrs. Markey died, the farm was soon operated by J.T. Lundy, representing an heir. Lundy fired Veitch and brought in trainer Frank Whiteley.
Lundy would not respond to requests for interviews yesterday.
Alydar was one of the few major stallions in the nation not syndicated. Calumet sold seasonal breeding rights and bred as many as 80 mares to him in some seasons.
Although Lundy had not discussed insurance for his horses, several years ago he disclosed that the stallion had been insured for $40 million.
Alydar's death was the latest in a year of racing deaths and tragedies that began in October 1989, when 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat was destroyed after developing laminitis, an incurable inflammation of the hoof.
Three weeks ago at the Breeders' Cup, three horses died in two separate racing disasters. In one, 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.
Alydar vs. Affirmed
* June 15, 1977: Affirmed won Youthful, Belmont Park; Alydar was 5th.
* July 6: Alydar beat Affirmed by 3 1/2 lengths in Great American Stakes, Belmont.
* Aug. 27: Affirmed beat Alydar by a half-length in Hopeful Stakes, Saratoga.
* Sept. 10: Affirmed beat Alydar by a nose in Belmont Futurity, Belmont.
* Oct. 15: Alydar beat Affirmed by 1 1/4 lengths in Champagne Stakes, Belmont.
* Oct. 29: Affirmed beat Alydar by a neck in Laurel Futurity, Laurel Race Course.
* May 6, 1978: Affirmed beat Alydar by 1 1/2 lengths in Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs.
* May 20: Affirmed beat Alydar by a neck in Preakness, Pimlico Race Course.
* June 10: Affirmed beat Alydar by a head in Belmont Stakes, Belmont.
* Aug. 19: Affirmed beat Alydar by 3/4 of a length in Travers Stakes, Saratoga; Affirmed disqualified, and Alydar declared winner.