Today in Racing History is an occasional feature focusing on some of racing history’s interesting, important, or unusual events.

by Richard Hackerman

March 9, 1977

In a prep for the upcoming Flamingo Stakes, Seattle Slew made a devastating return to the races in his first start as a three year old in an allowance race at Hialeah Park.  “The Slew,” under restraint by jockey Jean Cruguet, ran the first half-mile in 44 seconds, three-quarters in 1:08 and finished up in the highly anticipated event in a never surpassed track record of 1:20 3/5.  He won by a widening nine lengths while being eased the last eighth of a mile.

In a rare bit of extravagance, the official Daily Racing Form chart called it “a remarkable performance…”

In his 1977 book about Seattle Slew, Steve Cady declared:  “For raw speed, it had to be one of the most awesome displays ever seen on an American racetrack.”

Taken together, Seattle Slew’s career on the track and in the breeding shed perhaps is only rivaled by that of Northern Dancer.  Trained by Billy Turner to the Triple Crown, he is the only undefeated horse to win the Triple Crown.  Later, under the tutelage of Douglas Peterson, he beat Affirmed in the first matchup of Triple Crown winners, in the 1978 Marlboro Cup.   Seattle Slew’s 1978 nose defeat to Exceller in the Jockey Club Gold Cup after dueling Affirmed into submission was perhaps the greatest “losing” effort ever.   He retired with 14 wins from 17 starts and earnings of $1,208,726.  He was named champion two year-old colt in 1976, champion three year-old and Horse of the Year in 1977, and champion older horse in 1978.  Seattle Slew was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1981.

He was the leading sire of 1984.  He sired Kentucky Derby winner Swale and champions Landaluce, Slew o’ Gold, A.P. Indy and Surfside.  He is a sire of sires.  Seattle Slew is the only Belmont Stakes winner to sire a Belmont Stakes winner (A.P. Indy), who in turn sired a Belmont Stakes winner (Rags to Riches).

Seattle Slew died 25 years to the day after he won the Kentucky Derby.

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  1. Hialeah Allowance,” Seattle Slew website.
  2. Seattle Slew,” Wikipedia
  3. William H. Turner, Jr.,” Wikipedia
  4. Seattle Slew,” Equibase