Affirmed owner Louis Wolfson dead at 95

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Louis Wolfson, who bred and raced 1978 Triple Crown winner Affirmed with wife Patrice, died Sunday night at his home in Bal Harbour, Fla. Wolfson was 95 and had been suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

The Wolfsons campaigned their horses, including Affirmed, in the name of their Harbor View Farm. Wolfson raced many stakes performers, but Affirmed represented a pinnacle of achievement for Wolfson as both breeder and owner. The Exclusive Native colt's battles with rival Alydar, who finished second in each of the 1978 Triple Crown races, still rank among the sport's greatest moments.

Affirmed was voted Horse of the Year twice, in 1978 and 1979, and also was champion at 2 in 1977, at 3 in 1978, and at 4 in 1979.

Other Harbor View runners to be named champion were 1965 handicap male Roman Brother, also voted Horse of the Year by the Daily Racing Form; 1963 champion juvenile male Raise a Native, grandsire of Affirmed; Outstandingly, 1984's champion juvenile filly and Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies winner; and Flawlessly, an Affirmed homebred named champion turf female in 1992 and 1993.

Two Wolfson sons, Steve and Gary, bred It's in the Air, champion juvenile filly in 1978, in the name of Happy Valley Farm.

Wolfson's life outside racing was marked by both wealth and controversy. A self-made businessman, he became rich as an industrialist and Wall Street financier. But in 1967 he was convicted of selling unregistered shares, and the following year he was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice related to a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into Merritt-Chapman, a company he chaired. He served a year in federal prison for the latter conviction. Wolfson also was implicated in the resignation of Supreme Court Justice Abe Fortas in 1969 after a foundation Wolfson founded paid the justice $20,000 in 1966,when Wolfson had been under investigation. Though Wolfson's conviction never was reviewed by the Supreme Court and Fortas returned the $20,000 retainer, the connection led to Fortas's resignation.

Wolfson died on the 35th anniversary of his second marriage, to Patrice Wolfson, daughter of the late Hall of Fame trainer Hirsch Jacobs. Wolfson's survivors include his wife and sons Steve, a nationally renowned handicapper, Gary, and trainer Marty Wolfson.

Services were to take place on Thursday at 2 p.m. at Temple Ahaveth Chesed in Jacksonville, Fla.