Seattle Slew | Horse Profile

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Seattle Slew

Seattle Slew won Horse of the Year in 1977 at age 3, but also won Champion 2-year-old the year prior and Champion Older Horse the year after.

Quick Career Stats for Seattle Slew

  • Starts: 17
  • Wins: 14
  • Places: 2
  • Shows: 0
  • Earnings: $1,208,726
Seattle Slew Pedigree
Boldnesian (1963)
Bold Reasoning (1968)
Reason to Earn (1963)
Seattle Slew (1974)
Poker (1963)
My Charmer (1969)
Fair Charmer (1959)

How did Seattle Slew win the Triple Crown?

  • The Kentucky Derby
    • Speed was the name of Seattle Slew’s game, but a shockingly slow start threatened to unravel his chances at Kentucky Derby glory. Only an aggressive ride from Jean Cruguet managed to salvage the day, as Cruguet urged Seattle Slew to accelerate and slice his way between runners to gain second place in the run to the first turn. From there, the 1-2 favorite flaunted his dominance, pressing fast fractions of :23, :45 4/5, and 1:10 3/5 before edging away to win by 1 3/4 lengths in 2:02 1/5.
  • The Preakness Stakes
    • Favored at 2-5, Seattle Slew won the Preakness in the only manner he knew how—by running fast from start to finish. After dueling hard for the lead through splits of :22 3/5, :45 3/5, and 1:09 4/5, Seattle Slew put away his pace rival and cruised home a deceptively comfortable winner by 1 1/2 lengths in the snappy time of 1:54 2/5.
  • The Belmont Stakes
    • Just how dominant was Seattle Slew in the 109th Belmont Stakes? After leading from the start through easy fractions of :24 3/5, :48 2/5, and 1:14 over a muddy surface, the 2-5 favorite held such a commanding lead in the homestretch that jockey Jean Cruguet felt comfortable standing in the stirrups before the finish to salute the crowd. In the end, Seattle Slew won by four lengths in 2:29 3/5.

Who was Seattle Slew?

The Triple Crown is the most prestigious and elusive club in North American horse racing. Only 12 horses have won all three legs of the Triple Crown (Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes) in the same racing season, earning themselves access to the exclusive club. One of those lucky 12 is Seattle Slew, who accomplished the feat in 1977.

Seattle Slew began his racing career in 1976 and broke his maiden in his very first race – a maiden special weight race at Belmont Park on September 20, 1976. He would go on to win his next eight races, seven of which were grade one stakes wins. It was a winning streak that lasted from September of 1976 to June of 1977, and featured his Triple Crown glory.

During his distinguished career, Seattle Slew won 14 of his 17 career starts (nine graded stakes wins in total, eight of which were of the grade one variety), and he tacked on and additional two runner-up finishes. Seattle Slew earned $1,208,726 during his career. He was originally purchased at the 1975 Fasig-Tipton July yearling sale for $17,500.

The only time in his career he didn’t finish in the top-three was a fourth place result in the 1977 Swaps Stakes (G1), which was run a few weeks following his Belmont Stakes victory. It was his first career loss, a decision that did not set will with trainer Billy Turner. “You don’t treat a good horse like that,” said Turner when he found Seattle Slew’s owners wanted to race him in the  Swaps. Eventually both Turner and jockey Jean Cruguet would be fired.

The Daily Racing Form’s Joe Hirsch summarized Seattle Slew’s three-year-campaign perfectly: “Every time he ran he was an odds-on favorite, and the response to his presence on the racetrack, either for a morning workout or a major race, was electric. 'Slewmania' was a virulent and widespread condition.”

Four times in his career Seattle Slew won an Eclipse Award, including Horse of the Year honors in 1977. He was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1981. He died in his sleep on May 7, 2002, at the age of 28.

More rare photos of Seattle Slew

Seattle Slew winning the 1977 Kentucky Derby. (Courtesy of the Kentucky Derby/Churchill Downs)

Seattle Slew and jockey Jean Cruguet win the 1977 Belmont Stakes. (Keeneland Library Thoroughbred Times Collection) This image is protected by copyright and may not be reproduced in print or electronically without written permission of the Keeneland Library.

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