SEATTLE SLEW (SportsCentury) w/BONUS FOOTAGE
He was gangling and splay-legged and looked better suited for pulling a plow; even the chump change that bought him seemed outrageous. But the ugly duckling grew into a swan and when SEATTLE SLEW won the Triple Crown in 1977 he captured the love and admiration of all those railbirds for whom answered prayers are forever one race away. In July of 1975 a lumberjack, a former stewardess and a veterinarian went to the annual yearling sale in Lexington, Kentucky with $17,500 and a shared impossible dream. Whatever the three saw in SEATTLE SLEW it was not evident, much less visible to more experienced horse people who thought the colt was a dud.
Lead by trainer, BILLY TURNER, the "SLEW Crew" began the involved process of teaching the youngster the disciplines of racing and in the summer of 1976, the two-year-old turned heads working out at Saratoga. At Belmont, SEATTLE SLEW won his first two races setting the stage for his first big test - the prestigious October 16, 1976, Champagne Stakes - he would crush the field by eight lengths! SEATTLE SLEW climbed the charts and was voted top two-year-old; owners who hadn't given him a second glance at auction in 1975 could no longer ignore him.
Dominating the competition in Hialeah in March of 1977, the three-year-old had gained an intimidating presence. He embodied all of the traits that you would need: he was strong, tough, had quick reactions...he was arrogant, conceited, cocky and so confident. But more than mere physical appeal it was his low purchase price and middle class ownership that endeared him to millions. He was every man's horse - living proof that anyone had a chance to be a player in this game once considered, "The Sport of Kings". Many dismissed him because he wasn't a classic horse, he came cheaply and his owners weren't aristocrats from Kentucky. Many of the $2 betters probably look at themselves as people who have to earn their way in life much as SEATTLE SLEW had.
He arrived unbeaten after six starts in Kentucky as the odds-on favorite for the 103rd Kentucky Derby in 1977; he broke poorly and was trapped behind a wall of horses but soon found a hole and swung into action and was on his way to win #7. He overcame adversity after stumbling at the start and fighting his way through traffic to win the Derby - an amazing feat! Despite the character he showed in winning the Derby - most people still thought SLEW was a fluke - he didn't have what it took and didn't have the pedigree to be a great horse much less a Triple Crown winner. After his dominating Preakness win, more people became believers; standing tall on two legs of the Triple Crown the horse continued to gain popularity and even won over a few of racing's old guard. A crowd of more than 70,000 converged on Belmont Park on June 11, 1977, causing BILLY TURNER concern that his temperamental and headstrong horse would react to the fans that were sure to mob the grandstand rail as they did at Churchill Downs and for that reason SEATTLE SLEW was the last horse saddled in the paddock and to step onto the track so as not to be exposed to the crowd any longer than necessary. The strategy paid off as SLEW won the Belmont by four lengths and indelibly imprinted himself on American Turf history; the tenth Triple Crown winner...he was the only horse to have won the honor without suffering a single loss.
Like SECRETARIAT four years earlier, the powerful dark bay captured the imagination of a nation. In the frenetic aftermath of the Belmont, SLEW's owners broke with tradition and shipped him to the West Coast to run in the Swaps Stakes thinking he was invincible and against BILLY TURNER's discretion. SEATTLE SLEW, finishing out of the money for the only time in his career, struggled home sixteen lengths behind the winner, J.O. TOBIN - it was a colossal blunder and erased some of the greatness he achieved and was considered one of the worst upsets. In the eyes of the press, the image of SLEW's owners were soiled; considered greedy and not thinking of the horse for rushing him into a race so soon after his grueling Triple Crown campaign.
Next, the dream came crashing down as BILLY TURNER was replaced with trainer, DOUG PETERSON and SEATTLE SLEW survived a near fatal viral infection. The skeptics who attemped to devalue his accomplishments the year before once more raised their voices; within a year's time this horse went from a Triple Crown winner to the butt of jokes...his career was practically disintegrated.
SEATTLE SLEW won two allowance races in his 1978 comeback and had a new rider, ANGEL CORDERO, for his upcoming race with that year's Triple Crown winner, AFFIRMED, in the Marlboro Cup. The meeting between AFFIRMED and SEATTLE SLEW captivated the public's imagination as it was the first time ever that two Triple Crown winners would face each other in the same race - a monumental meeting. SEATTLE SLEW would reign supreme by four lengths and the victory absolutely turned his career and reputation around...SEATTLE SLEW was no accidental Triple Crown winner who just happened to get lucky. To further underline SLEW's greatness he was entered against AFFIRMED again in the 1978 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont - in a race that put SLEW through a character test and cemented his legendary status, he put on a gallant effort digging in and battling to the finish line but losing by a whisker to the globe-trotting, EXCELLER. He refused to give up and fought 'til the end - never had a "loser" gained more admirers in defeat. American race fans like a noble loser just as much as a spectacular winner and only a rare kind of horse could share in the greatness of a race despite losing...SEATTLE SLEW was just such a horse.
SLEW finished off his career with a win in the Stuyvesant Handicap in Aqueduct and was off to a promising stud career. SEATTLE SLEW, favored in every race except for the Marlboro Cup, won 14 of 17 career starts. In direct contradiction to what racing's old guard thought of him, SEATTLE SLEW proved that winning was in his genes as time and time again he forged greatness into his offspring - he went on to have a tremendous impact on the game as a breeding stallion. SEATTLE SLEW...the 10th Triple Crown winner...yet history viewed his career in the shadow of SECRETARIAT and the AFFIRMED/ALYDAR rivalry. While he was revered as the peoples' horse, SEATTLE SLEW was taunted about his humble beginnings but he more than had his redemption and his revenge...first on the racetrack then repeated his triumph in the breeding shed.
AS AN ADDED BONUS...Several outstanding segments of SEATTLE SLEW from various sources through the years are also included after the running of the main feature - ENJOY!!
1) SLEW undergoes treatment for mild neurological disfunction of the spine at 26-years-old in 2000
2) SLEW undergoes successful surgery to fuse a couple vertebrae together
3) SLEW returns to Three Chimneys Farm after his surgery
4) A segment on SEATTLE SLEW during the 2001 Breeders' Cup broadcast - the only living Triple Crown winner
5) Another segment on SLEW during the week leading up to the 2002 Kentucky Derby; once again...the only living Triple Crown winner
6) Visa credit card commercials of SEATTLE SLEW with jockey, Jean Cruget
7) SEATTLE SLEW, the 10th Triple Crown winner, dies peacefully in his stall on 5/7/77 at 28-years-old; 25 years to the day he won the 1977 Kentucky Derby
8) Visa credit card pays tribute to SEATTLE SLEW; his 1977 Preakness victory is showcased
9) Extra lengthy tribute in memoriam to SEATTLE SLEW
10) A look back at the immortal SEATTLE SLEW 1974-2002
11) Super rare Three Chimneys Farm segment on the foundation stallions that jump-started the farm: SLEW O'GOLD, CHIEF'S CROWN and SEATTLE SLEW
12) MAGGIE SLEW - the last foal from SEATTLE SLEW's final crop
13) Horse racing channel HRTV phone interviews SLEW's trainer, Billy Turner, during the week leading up to BIG BROWN's possible Triple Crown sweep the week of the 2008 Belmont Stakes.
|Format(s) Available:||DVD And VHS|
|Category:||U.S. & Canadian Flat Racing|