To racing she was known as the “Queen Of Queens.”
She was magnificent in all possible areas. She was royally bred, nearly unstoppable on the racetrack, and as brilliant as a broodmare as she was a racehorse. She reached a pinnacle of success that no other filly had even approached. Dominant at ages 2,3, and 4, Affectionately became only the 2nd female racehorse to break the half-million-dollar earnings mark. She was America’s Champion 2 year old of 1962 and was America’s champion sprint horse of 1965. She would eventually have a stake race named after her at Aqueduct, was entered into the Hall Of Fame in 1989 and BloodHorse Publications ranked her #81 on the top 100 racehorses of the 20th century list. Affectionately’s great-granddamsire at #1, her damsire at #13, her sire at #20, Affectionately’s legacy continues to show us an example of Thoroughbred breeding and racing at its best. So let’s go back and remember the great horse that was Affectionately.
Affectionately was born on April 26, 1960, at Dr Charles Hagyard’s farm in Lexington, Kentucky. Affectionately was sired by 1955 Kentucky Derby winner and 1956 Horse of the Year, Swaps. Her dam was Searching, who was sired by 1937 Triple Crown winner War Admiral. Searching had a race record of 89:25-14-16 with stakes wins including Pimlico’s Gallorette, the Correction at Jamaica, the Diana at Saratoga and the Maskette, Top Flight and Distaff, all at Belmont. Searching was also a superb broodmare. From her 8 foals, 7 were winners and 3 were stake winners. These included Admiring, who produced Glowing Tribute, dam of 1993 Kentucky Derby winner Sea Hero along with six other stakes winners, and Priceless Gem,who beat the great Buckpasser in the 1965 Futurity and was the dam of 1974 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Allez France.
Affectionately was Searching’s first foal. Not a particularly large filly at 15.3 ¾ hands, Affectionately lived up to her name with a calm, sweet disposition. She was bred by the successful partnership of prominent trainer Hirsch Jacobs and Isidor Bieber and was also trained by Jacobs. She raced in the colors of Jacobs’ wife, Ethel D. Jacobs. Jacobs was most famous for owning and training the great Stymie. His numerous stakes winners included Affectionately’s dam Searching, as well as Hail to Reason, who was on his way to becoming Champion Two Year Old Colt the year Affectionately was born. From the start Affectionately had the makings of a champion.
Affectionately made her first start in a three-furlong maiden race at Santa Anita on January 17 of her 2-year-old season (which is unheard of today) where she won easily and she only got better from there. As a juvenile, six of her nine wins were in stakes, the Fashion and Astoria at Aqueduct, the National Stallion Stakes at Belmont, the Polly Drummond at Delaware, the Spinaway at Saratoga and Monmouth’s Sorority. Before her 2 year old season had even concluded, Jacobs claimed she was the best horse he had ever trained, which was quite a bold statement when you consider the horses he had previously trained and the fact that Affectionately was only a 2 year old. Affectionately was nine for ten when she met the unbeaten Smart Deb in the Matron Stakes. She finished third. She was beaten twice more. Although she did not end her juvenile season particularly well, she was still awarded the divisional championship for two year old fillies, an honor she shared with Smart Deb.
After some rest, she jumped right back into racing, but still wasn’t as dominant as she was in her juvenile season. Instead, Spicy Living and the ill-fated Lamb Chop took the stage as the top fillies in the country. Racing exclusively in New York in her 3 year old season, Affectionately won 4 of 9 starts, her best win being in the Interborough Handicap. At the conclusion of her 3yo season she earned $33,592. At 4 she returned to her winning ways. Her wins included a second Interborough Handicap, the Vosburgh Handicap, and the Correction Handicap, beating the boys on 2 occasions. Her final start as a 4 year old was at Santa Anita on December 31, in the 6-furlong Las Flores Handicap, where she dead-heated under 125 pounds with Chop House. She concluded the season with eight wins, five in stakes, from 15 starts and earned $108,994.
As a five year old, Affectionately blossomed into a truly great racehorse. In the Vagrancy Handicap, Affectionately carried 137 pounds to victory, giving at least seventeen pounds to the rest of the field. In the Toboggan, she went six furlongs in 1:09 2/5, conquering Chieftain and becoming the first mare to win the race since 1910. Affectionately became a television star when she won the mile and one eighth Top Flight Handicap. Although her best performances were usually under a mile, she won the nine-furlong Top Flight by eight lengths. Later that month she was third in the Met Mile behind multiple stakes winners Gun Bow and Chieftain before a record crowd of 73,435. She also won the Distaff, Correction, and Liberty Bell Handicaps. Affectionately was eventually voted Champion Sprinter of 1965. She also shared the title of Champion Handicap Mare with Old Hat. With 18 stakes wins and $546,659 in earnings, Affectionately retired as one of only two mares to break the half million dollar mark.
In March 1966, Jacobs announced Affectionately’s retirement. She would be bred to Jacobs’ young stallion champion 2yo of 1960, Hail To Reason. That foal would go on to be called Personality, who went on to win the Preakness, Woodward, Wood Memorial, Jim Dandy and Jersey Derby. He was named champion 3-year-old male of 1970 and co- Horse of the Year, a title he shared with Fort Marcy.
Due to fertility problems, Affectionately had just 4 foals, only 2 of which raced. She died on March 31, 1979, and was buried at Spendthrift Farm in Kentucky. She was elected to the Racing Hall of Fame in 1989. Affectionately is truly one of the best mares racing has ever witnessed. In 52 starts she won 28 times, was second 8 times, and 3rd 6 times. Jacobs would go on to enter the Hall of Fame and always referred to Affectionately as “the best horse I’ve ever trained”, better than his other trainees Stymie and Hail to Reason. She was and is still truly the Queen Of Queens.