Forty-one years ago, a dark brown colt purchased at a bargain-basement price by some thoroughbred neophytes made horse racing history.
His name was SEATTLE SLEW and his memorable two-month run of 1977 began at Churchill Downs.
He was purchased as a yearling for the paltry price of $17,500 by Karen and Mickey Taylor of White Swan, Washington, at the annual Fasig-Tipton auction. Just a few years earlier, Karen had been a flight attendant and Mickey a lumberman before he made it big in wood pulp.
The horse, born with a small patch of white hair by his left rear hoof, wasn’t particularly striking. As a foal some said he looked like a mule, but Karen Taylor took a quick liking to him. She named him Seattle Slew to reflect their logging background from the Pacific Northwest.
The Taylors’ sent their colt to trainer Billy Turner, a former steeplechase rider based at Belmont Park. Turner then chose jockey Jean Cruget to ride SEATTLE SLEW and he rode him all the way into history. He not only won horse racing’s Triple Crown in 1977, but became the first horse to do so without a loss. That mark stood until this year when JUSTIFY (who ironically is descended from SS) went through the Triple Crown undefeated and subsequently retired.
SEATTLE SLEW was retired and successfully put out to stud in 1978. A couple of his most famous progeny were 1984 Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes winner SWALE, as well as 1992 Belmont winner AP INDY.
“SLEW” passed away on May 7th 2002, twenty-five years to the day that he won the Kentucky Derby.
So here’s to you SEATTLE SLEW.