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Old 05-08-2002, 12:35 AM   #1
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Seattle Slew, The Last Of The Triple Crown Winners Dies

He was 28...

And then there were none...

******************************************
Seattle Slew Dies at 28

May 8, 2002
By JOE DRAPE




It was Sept. 16, 1978, and Angel Cordero finally landed the
ride of his life: he was aboard Seattle Slew for the
Marlboro Cup Handicap. The colt swept the Triple Crown the
previous year and had won 11 of 13 races over all with the
jockey Jean Cruguet, but now it was Cordero's turn atop a
horse he had long admired.

Seattle Slew emerged from the breezeway at Belmont Park and
immediately began his pre-race dance, high-stepping like a
Radio City Rockette, eyeballing the other horses and even
glancing up at rival jockeys. The legendary Cordero had
been on the receiving end of Slew's withering gaze many
times and was hardly surprised.

But Cordero was startled when the horse got in the starting
gate, stilled his feet and began breathing deeply. Never
before had Cordero felt a horse get lost in concentration.

Seattle Slew's chest expanded, his neck got taut and he
stared through the gate, just raring to go.

And he did go, leading every step of the mile-and-an-eighth
race, and dusting by three lengths a pretty good horse
named Affirmed, who happened to be that year's Triple Crown
winner.

"If Seattle Slew was human, he'd be Muhammad Ali," Cordero
said yesterday. "Jumping, strutting and cocky, but good -
the best horse I've ever been on."

Early yesterday, 25 years to the day that he won the
Kentucky Derby, Seattle Slew died in his sleep at Hill 'n'
Dale Farm near Lexington, Ky.

The 28-year-old son of Bold Reasoning, Slew was the last
living Triple Crown champion, as well as the only winner of
the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes to sweep
the prestigious series as an undefeated colt. He had won
all six of his races before the spring classics.

His death leaves the thoroughbred racing world without a
living Triple Crown winner for the first time since Sir
Barton first accomplished the feat in 1919.

"He was the most complete thoroughbred the industry has
seen," his owner, Mickey Taylor, said of Seattle Slew. "He
just kept raising the bar with every record he broke."

Taylor; his wife, Karen; and a former partner, Jim Hill,
bought Seattle Slew for a modest $17,500, then watched as
he won 14 of 17 races - two of the three he lost were by a
neck and a nose - and earned $1,208,726 in purses.

He was equally dominating as a stallion, siring 102 stakes
winners - including 1984 Kentucky Derby winner, Swale, and
the 1992 Horse of the Year, A. P. Indy. His offspring won
more than $75 million in purses, and at the apex of his
breeding popularity, Seattle Slew commanded $750,000 per
coupling.

The horse had been suffering from arthritis the past two
years and underwent two delicate spinal fusion operations,
the most recent of which was last month. For the past week,
the Taylors, who moved to Kentucky from the state of
Washington two years ago to be closer to the horse, had
been sleeping in the stall with Seattle Slew. Just after
midnight Monday, Seattle Slew said his goodbyes and lay
down for good.

"He basically was tired and figuring out what to do,"
Taylor said yesterday. "He came up and he sniffed the dog,
Chet. They licked tongues, and he laid down and went to
sleep. He went from energy to saying thank you and knowing
it was time to let go. He looked me square in the eye."

Just last week, Billy Turner, who trained Seattle Slew
through his Triple Crown campaign, celebrated the 25th
anniversary of that feat by remembering a "big, gangly
colt," blessed with intelligence but sometimes difficult to
handle because of his burning desire to run.

"Everything he did on the racetrack was phenomenal, and it
was the same as with his stud career," Turner said
yesterday. "He was just amazing."

The sadness was palpable throughout Kentucky's Bluegrass
yesterday, especially at Three Chimneys Farm in Midway,
where Seattle Slew spent the bulk of his retirement. The
horse was the farm's star stallion from September 1985 to
this past February. In April he was moved to Hill 'n' Dale
because his barn at Three Chimneys was too close to the
breeding shed, which tormented Seattle Slew when the mares
arrived.

Before he was too ill, Seattle Slew still carried a
$300,000 stud fee, said Dan Rosenberg, the president of
Three Chimneys.

"He saw himself as king of the world," Rosenberg said. "He
held himself royally here. He knew he was the Babe Ruth,
the Michael Jordan, the Wayne Gretzky of racing."

In his Kentucky Derby victory, he smacked into the starting
gate and slammed into a horse next to him, but quickly
recovered and ended up winning by nearly two lengths.

"All you would have to do is keep quiet and be smooth,"
said Cruguet, his jockey that day. "The only time I ever
moved on him was when he came out of the gate. I wouldn't
even have to make a move after that. He would just take
off.

"He wanted people to know how good he was."

Unfortunately, Seattle Slew may have been eclipsed a bit in
the public's consciousness at the height of his racing
prowess. He followed Secretariat, whose 1973 Triple Crown
was punctuated by a 31-length victory in the Belmont, and
he preceded by one year Affirmed, a colt that had the
advantage of memorable, and triumphant, Triple Crown duels
with Alydar.

Neither was better than Seattle Slew, in Cordero's
estimation. One of racing's greatest jockeys, and now an
agent for John Velazquez, Cordero rode the horse in his
final four starts, three of them victories, the other a
loss by a nose to Exceller in the Jockey Club Gold Cup.

But it is Cordero's memory of being vanquished by Seattle
Slew in the 1977 Kentucky Derby that most embodies the
horse's character and drive. Cordero's mount, For the
Moment, led the field when Seattle Slew motored past, but
not before taking a look at Cordero and his horse.

"Goodbye, soul brother," Cordero remembers calling out.


Goodbye, indeed.
http://www.nytimes.com/2002/05/08/sp...fb377d4ee7760d



[This message has been edited by Miss MacPhisto (edited 05-07-2002).]
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Old 05-08-2002, 12:43 AM   #2
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sorry to hear that, but wow, isn't that unusual for a horse to live that long?

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Old 05-08-2002, 12:59 AM   #3
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Hey, GMTA...I came here for the express purpose of posting about this, but the other horse lover beat me to it

It's weird though, because I'd been thinking about Seattle Slew, as they had mentioned during the Derby coverage on Saturday that he was the last surviving Triple Crown winner, and they showed a little clip of him grazing peacefully, looking fat and woolly and happy. My dad pointed out the news item on TV and said "You were talking about him just the other day..." Affirmed, who was apparently the last winner of the Triple Crown (1978) died just last year. I can't remember whether or not I heard about it.

Well, he was a good age for a horse (though Man O'War lived to 30) and had a happy life, I think--great racing career and then lots of food and lovely mares for many years

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See the bird with the leaf in her mouth
After the flood all the colours came out


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Old 05-08-2002, 01:01 AM   #4
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Yep, it is...for a Thoroughbred. Esp. considering that many, maybe even most TBs never even make it past age 3 or 4 or so. Theyre raced until they break down or stop winning, then theyre killed or sent to slaughter.
However, some horse breeds can make it even into their 30s or older.
Man O War, a Thoroughbred, lived to be 30 and I can think of many others that have made it past that.
I was REALLY hoping Slew would make it at least another year, cuz i wanted to go to Kentucky and see him. I had been thinking about his age over the past few days, planning my trip, i had heard he was doing well, so i thought I had a chance to visit him.
Now i'll never have the chance to see a Triple Crown winner.
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Old 05-08-2002, 01:04 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by Miss MacPhisto:

I was REALLY hoping Slew would make it at least another year, cuz i wanted to go to Kentucky and see him. I had been thinking about his age over the past few days, planning my trip, i had heard he was doing well, so i thought I had a chance to visit him.
Now i'll never have the chance to see a Triple Crown winner.
That's too bad! But maybe someone else will win it soon...hope hope!

You know what? I just found out that he died on the 25th anniversary of his Derby win.

I wonder, if you were a retired racehorse, would you have thoughts or dreams of racing down the stretch, years later?

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After the flood all the colours came out


[This message has been edited by scatteroflight (edited 05-07-2002).]
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Old 05-08-2002, 01:07 AM   #6
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Oopsies, I just replied without seeing your post,lol, it took me awhile to write mine, i just echoed some of the points you made
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Old 05-08-2002, 01:14 AM   #7
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you know, i think some at least do. I heard Forego was kept at a stable right next to the backstretch of a track he used to race at.
When the horses raced down the stretch, he would take off across his paddock and race right alongside the fence, and run with them, as far as the confines of his paddock would allow.
I know Man O War used to dream about racing....
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Old 05-08-2002, 01:58 AM   #8
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K, this is my last post for the night, and this article is so moving almost cried...

********************************************
Champion Kept Going Till the End

May 8, 2002
By GEORGE VECSEY


IN the final days, his legs skewed out so badly that one of
his loving owners, Mickey Taylor, had to prop up his flank
with a bare upraised palm, just to keep him moving.


"He went 45 degrees to the right just to go straight
ahead," Taylor recalled last night, through the tears.

This is no way for a champion to wind up. The Taylors,
Mickey and Karen, were with him right up until his peaceful
end yesterday morning, 25 years to the day after his
winning the Kentucky Derby.

Yet even in these final weeks, Seattle Slew knew exactly
where he wanted to go. The starting gate was perhaps not
even a memory anymore, although if he had been placed in
that steel contraption he would surely have had some
vestigial impulse to barrel out of there as fast as he
could.

No, even coming out of surgery a few weeks back, Slew's
first instinct was to scramble up on all fours and make the
walk to the breeding shed, where he excelled as surely as
he once did on the track. He won 14 of his 17 races in his
time, and his heirs are said to have won $75 million in
purses, a quarter of a century after he won the Triple
Crown.


He was recuperating from surgery on March 2 to fuse
arthritic joints in his neck. He was 28 years old. If Slew
had been human, he would have been hailed for reaching
triple digits. Nevertheless, at that advanced age, he still
had ideas.

"He's doing a tizzy right now," Mickey Taylor said in late
March, talking on the telephone from Midway, Ky., to Laura
Vecsey, my daughter, a sports columnist for The Seattle
Post-Intelligencer.

"In the barn where his stall is, we're close to where the
mares come in, and he wants them," Taylor continued. "We're
supposed to keep him quiet for four weeks, but it's been 25
days since his surgery. He's starting to feel so good in
his stall. We've got the door closed and the radio on so he
can't hear them, but any time a mare comes into the barn,
he thinks it's his."

They wound up moving him from Three Chimneys Farm in Midway
to Hill 'n' Dale Farm, near Lexington, just to get him away
from the temptation. Not all champions are good at this
line of work, but Slew produced stakes winners right away,
as impressively as he won the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness
and the Belmont in five weeks in 1977.

Thoroughbred horses impress just about everybody, even
those who have no interest in handing over $2 to a ticket
vendor or a bookie. Just seeing films of Secretariat in
1973 or of Seattle Slew in 1977 or of Affirmed in 1978
takes your breath away.

"He was such a willing horse," Jean Cruguet, who rode the
large, dark stallion in 1977, said yesterday. "All he
wanted was to run, but you had to caution him to run
properly."

Cruguet also recalled the bumpy start to the Derby, when
Slew bumped into the horse to his right coming out of the
gate.

"He came out sideways," Cruguet said in awed tones through
his thick French accent. "I had to keep my balance. I
couldn't see much, but a jockey never sees much. I just
pushed my way to the inside. If we don't, maybe he doesn't
win. I didn't want to know."

Seattle Slew overcame that rude start, and he never really
slowed down. In the peak years of his stud duties, his fees
reached the high six figures, James Hill, a former
co-owner, said yesterday.

If anything, the money works at counter purposes to the
Triple Crown. There is reason to think that intense
breeding has produced rickety horses who cannot last the
pounding, and it is also true that potential breeding fees
bring about prudent decisions to retire horses young.

It is mostly about breeding fees, but the Taylors are
throwbacks. They have been with Slew almost from the
beginning, moving from Washington to Kentucky when Tom
Wade, his faithful groom, called the Taylors during their
skiing vacation 28 months ago.

"He needed me and Karen," Taylor said last night, driving
west. "Anybody else would have put him down."

Instead, they nursed him through an operation, saw him
successfully breed with 43 of 46 mares last year, then saw
him deteriorate this spring.

"I knew he would not cry uncle," Taylor said.

The Taylors
and Wade were in his stall overnight, when he no longer
even tried to stand up. If they had chosen euthanasia for
their failing champion, that would have been a loving
decision, but they said he went peacefully and naturally.


"We have a black labrador, 8 months old, named Chet,
after my father," Mickey Taylor said last night, sobbing
into his cellphone. "Chet went into his stall, and Slew
licked Chet's face, and Chet licked Slew's face. Then Slew
looked up at me and said: `You get on with your life. I've
got to go.' "

"We told him to go to sleep," Karen Taylor had said
earlier. "He was very tired. We gave him permission, and he
said his goodbyes."

"He was the greatest," added Karen Taylor, who was crying.
"He gave us a lot of love. He was nice enough to let us
love him, and we knew we were given a gift.

"He was a very special horse, and now we are going to live
the rest of our lives in his name."

The Taylors had already reached Kansas City. Mickey Taylor
said: "I'm going straight to the ocean and turn right" -
back home to Washington. They had no reason to stay in the
Bluegrass.

The last Triple Crown champion is gone.

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/05/08/sp...f5adaf2eab183e



[This message has been edited by Miss MacPhisto (edited 05-09-2002).]
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