SEATTLE SLEW "OUT WEST"
Turner proved to be right. The race, California's first chance to see the undefeated champion up close, lured more than 60,000 fans to the track but sadly turned into a fiasco. Even though SLEW, the 1-5 favorite, possessed a ton of natural speed, he was not ready and "needed a breather" as Turner attested and the crowd witnessed the very first loss of his remarkable career. SEATTLE SLEW struggled home in a disappointing fourth place finish and 16 tired lengths behind eventual winner J.O. TOBIN. A frenetic racing schedule finally took its toll and this would be the only time in SEATTLE SLEW's career that he would ever again finish worse than second.
The Champion then made his way to the now defunct Longacres Track in Washington a few weeks later; the connections of SEATTLE SLEW decided to take the opportunity of SLEW's only trip out West and have him shipped to their home state of Washington to be publicly paraded in front of a legion of adoring fans at Longacres Track in Seattle. All the pomp and pageantry usually associated with dignitaries was extended to the Champ as the Palomino Parade of Flags kicked off the festivities.
On July 8 and 9, 1977, undefeated Triple Crown winner SEATTLE SLEW appeared at Longacres for a non-competitive showing. For the first time in the track's history, Longacres sold advance tickets for a regular racing day. Admission prices (usually $3.50 for the best seating during the 1977 season) were $5.00 a head. The event raised funds for human medical research (mostly cancer) at the University of Washington and for horse medical research at Washington State University. SEATTLE SLEW was bred in Kentucky and never raced at Longacres, but his co-owners Karen and Mickey Taylor were Washingtonians (from White Swan, on the Yakama Reservation) involved in the lumber industry. "We knew we couldn't put on a race that would justify him coming, but we just wanted him to be at our racetrack. So my father devised an event called the Golden Gallup, Alhadeff remembers." In Seattle, the Alhadeff name is perhaps best associated with Longacres, the racetrack built by his grandfather in 1933 and owned and operated by the family until 1990.
Billed as a fund-raiser, the family guaranteed at least $100,000 each to WSU's College of Veterinary Medicine and the Joe Gottstein Cancer Research Fund at the University of Washington, named after Alhadeff's grandfather, who founded Longacres. "When that horse got out of the van in the barn area, horses started popping their heads out of their stalls. They knew they were in the presence of something special," Alhadeff said. With a 135-pound exercise rider on his back - 30 pounds more than a jockey weighs - the exhausted horse was just asked for an exhibition gallop around the track. But when he headed for home, the crowd started cheering and yelling. SEATTLE SLEW went into a dead run, because that Thoroughbred had so much heart and soul that he refused not to run as fast as he could," Alhadeff said. "When he came into the winner's circle for a ceremonial photograph, it was very clear that he felt as if he'd run a race."
This EXTREMELY RARE piece of racing history film of SEATTLE SLEW's only Longacres appearance was recently unearthed and can be converted to either dvd or vhs tape for anyone who has ever followed the career and loved the legendary champion race horse and ethereal sire, SEATTLE SLEW. This two-day Longacres exhibition was never professionally filmed/recorded or released commercially to the general public - it was filmed beautifully by a devoted life-long SLEW fan who managed to film SLEW coming across the scenic infield at Longacres with jockey JEAN CRUGET on board wearing the familiar yellow and black Tayhill Stable silks; being paraded on the track in front of a packed crowd in the stands; making his "victory laps" around the track in race horse time to the rousing applause and standing ovation of patrons and also shows up-close scenes in the paddock winner's circle with his owners, the Taylors, in close proximity taking in all the accolades of their prized steed. The overall quality of this piece is miraculously well preserved (clear and sharp picture) and a definite golden addition to anyone's historical racing collection; it is in vivid color but has no sound due to being converted from an 8mm reel and there are obviously a few areas that occasional light flashes and a jumpy picture is evident.
This is a one-of-a-kind treasure trove of a find that any astute racing fan will appreciate its immeasurable value - memories etched in time. As a closing postscript....ironically, Denise Steffanus, a contributing editor of THOROUGHBRED TIMES, was presented with the 2002 USA Equestrian Award for Media Excellence for her article, "So Shall You Reap," which appeared in the May 18 issue of the THOROUGHBRED TIMES. The piece chronicled the story of Triple Crown winner SEATTLE SLEW's donation of an appearance fee at Longacres in 1977 to a Washington State University research project that ultimately provided the knowledge to save his life 23 years later. In the article, Steffanus wrote: "Call it karma or reaping what you sow, SLEW's contribution to wobbler research, which seemed inconsequential in 1977, was the seed that grew into the tree of life for the stallion 23 years later." USA Equestrian President Alan Balch, who presented the award, told attendees: "Denise has carefully crafted a beautifully written feature that intertwines the lives and stories of those who played a part in this remarkable story.
Make this rare footage of legendary 10th Triple Crown winner, SEATTLE SLEW's only trip out West in the Swaps Stakes at Hollywood Park and a visit to Longacres part of your racing collection today!
|Format(s) Available:||DVD And VHS|
|Category:||U.S. & Canadian Flat Racing|