In the short list of triple crown winners, this horse had to be one of the biggest bargains in racing history. We’re referring to the puzzle of a wonder, Seattle Slew.
The story of this horse is just another reminder of how weird the sport of horse racing can be and how unpredictable it can also be. All over the racing industry millionaires were spending small fortunes trying to breed the best horses they could in the hopes of coming away with a winner. While this mad spending was going on a few friends got together and spent $17,500 to buy Seattle Slew when he was just one yr old. You wouldn’t think that kind of money would get you much of anything. But these friends saw their investment go on to become a triple crown winner and also go on to be one of the greatest horses in the 20th century.
Seattle Slew was the son of Bold Reasoning and My Charmer. The horse was brought along very slowly in his career by a young trainer named William H. Turner. He was the oldest horse in history to make his two yr old maiden race which was on September 20, 1976 at Belmont Park. Out of twelve horses in the field, he went off as a 2. 6 to 1 favorite. He took the lead quickly and won the race by five lengths.
Oddly, Seattle Slew started just two more races as a two yr old. He won an allowance race on October 5 and then won the Champagne Stakes eleven days later by a whopping 9 and 3/4 lengths. After that race people were already talking about whether or not he would be the next triple crown winner in just 4 years since Secretariat in 1973.
Again, once Seattle Slew hit three years of age, his trainer took things slow with him, not starting him in his first race as a three yr old until March 9, 1977. That race was in Hialeah where he won by nine lengths. On March 26 he then won again at the Flamingo Stakes by four lengths. Essentially, he won the Wood Memorial Stakes on April 23 by 3 and 1/4 lengths.
By the time the Kentucky Derby came around on May 7, because of his past performances, Seattle Slew was the overwhelming favorite to win going off at 1 to
2. Ironically, the race was nearly a disaster for Slew when he swerved and was sharply taken by the jockey. He was allowed to take an early lead because of this but that resulted in him tiring down the stretch that became a 3 horse race. Slew did manage to hang on and win by 1 and 3/4 lengths.
At the Preakness, two weeks later, things were very similar to the Derby as Slew was involved in a real horse race but managed to hang on to win by 1 and 1/2 lengths. At this time people were starting to worry that he would fall short in the Belmont. But Slew didn’t disappoint. The Belmont was a completely different story and Slew went on to win by four lengths.
The victory made him not only the 10th triple crown winner but the first undefeated triple crown winner. Slew finally retired at the end of the 1978 season.