Under the tutelage of Jack Van Berg, Alysheba scored two of the classic wins denied his father, the mighty Alydar. While Alydar was part of one of racing's most famous rivalries, Alysheba was part of two. He exchanged blows with Bet Twice on eight occasions, and the two trainers claimed that their horses knew each other, and would call greetings to each other whenever they met on the backside. Alysheba maintained a rivalry with the older Kentucky Derby winner Ferdinand as well.
Alysheba was foaled on March 3, 1984. Bred by Preston Madden, he was a bay son of Alydar and the Lt. Stevens mare Bel Sheba, whose dam Belthazar was by War Admiral. Dorothy and Pam Scharbauer purchased the bay colt for a half million dollars, but as a juvenile Alysheba won only once. It was an impressive, if unimportant win, however. He wired the field in a mile and a sixteenth contest at Turfway Park, and won by eight lengths.
As a three year old, he was disqualified and placed third in the Blue Grass Stakes, and he was a not considered to be the leading contender at Churchill Downs. But when they turned for home, he proved them wrong. He overcame a brush with disaster when he was blocked by Bet Twice and nearly went down, then in a dramatic stretch drive he passed Bet Twice to win the Kentucky Derby. His time of 2:03 2/5 was well off the record, but the fact that he was blocked three times in his stretch drive and still triumphed made it one of the most memorable Derbies.
Two weeks later Bet Twice and Alysheba met again, this time at Pimlico. The bay son of Alydar was again triumphant. Bet Twice took his revenge in the Belmont, however, solidly defeating his rival.
Bet Twice won again in the Haskell Invitational. The great stretch battle was one of the most memorable races ever run at Monmouth, and the rivals now had two victories each.
It was a sloppy track that defeated Alysheba in the Travers, but he redeemed himself with a win in the Super Derby at Louisiana Downs. In his final race of the season, he met Ferdinand for the first time in the Breeders Cup Classic. The older horse won by nose, earning Horse of the Year honors, but the impressive effort assured that Alysheba was named Champion Three Year Old Colt, and when he returned at four, he was a much improved horse.
Alysheba started the year on the west coast, winning the Strub Stakes. He beat Ferdinand twice in California, winning the San Bernardino Handicap and blazing under the wire in 1:59 4/5 to win the Santa Anita Handicap. He traveled east to win the Philip H. Iselin Handicap, then broke the track record for a mile and a quarter at Belmont, beating Travers Stakes winner Forty Niner in the Woodward with a time of 1:59 2/5. He shattered the track record when he won the Meadowlands Cup, covering the mile and a quarter in 1:58 4/5.
In his final race of the season, Alysheba met an impressively strong field in the 1988 Breeders Cup Classic. With victory by a half length, he guaranteed himself Horse of the Year honors over the likes of Risen Star, Forty Niner, Ferdinand and Bet Twice. He was also the world's leading money winner, with a lifetime total of $6,679,242.
Elected to the Hall of Fame in 1993, Alysheba now stands at Lane's End Farm in Versailles, Kentucky, and has sired a number of stakes winners, but nothing of his own caliber. Like so many champions, it might be as a broodmare sire that he makes his mark on the breed. He has already made his mark on history.
|Alydar||Raise a Native||Native Dancer||Polynesian|
|Raise You||Case Ace|
|Bel Sheba||Lt. Stevens||Nantallah||Nasrullah|
|Rough Shod II||Gold Bridge|
|Belthazar||War Admiral||Man o' War|
|Blinking Owl||Pharamond II|
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