Seattle Slew's Surgery A Success
April 6, 2000 - The Blood-Horse
by David Schmitz
Due to Arrive Home at Three Chimneys
Mr. and Mrs. Robert N. Clay's Three Chimneys Farm announced the surgery to fuse the two vertabrae in Seattle Slew's neck was a success, and the 26-year old stallion was to have been returned to the farm several days after the April 2 operation at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital near Lexington. A Bagby basket, which is made of steel mesh, was inserted around the vertabrae to stabilize the joint. The basket allows the bone to grow through it, and will help relieve pressure on the spinal cord.
"It was textbook; no complications whatsoever," said farm manager Dan Rosenberg a day after the 90-minute operation. "He's on antibiotics, and there's no cast or cradle. He's walking, eating his hay, and just being a horse."
The surgery was performed by a team of veterinarians flown in from San Luis Rey Equine Hospital near Bonsall, Calif. The group consisted of Barrie Grant, who was assisted by Richard Pankowski, Sandra Valdez, Jan Sargent-Beach, and Norman Rantanen, plus anesthesiologist John Hubbell (of The Ohio State University Veterinary School).
"Placement went well, and we were happy with the post operative films," Grant said. "The horse recovered well and got up like the great athlete that he is."
Mickey and Karen Taylor, who raced Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew with Dr. and Mrs. James Hill, said, "We are grateful to the entire surgical team for taking time from their schedules to provide their expertise to help this wonderful horse."
The decision to have Seattle Slew undergo the surgery came after a myelogram at Rood and Riddle on March 26 revealed spinal cord compression due to arthritic changes in the stallion's vertebrae. The lesion is presumed to be responsible for Seattle Slew's neurological symptoms that interferred with his stallion duties this year. A decision on his future as a stallion will be made at a later date. This year, he covered 27 mares, with seven in foal.
Rosenberg announced there was speculation in some quarters over the time lapse between the myelogram and the surgery, but the week separating the two procedures was made with Seattle Slew's best interest at heart. "It wasn't a delay," Rosenberg said. "We wanted to give him time to recover from the myelogram and needed time to assemble the team (of veterinarians). We wanted everyone fresh."
Following his scheduled arrival at Three Chimneys, Seattle Slew (Bold Reasoning-My Charmer, by Poker) will rest in his stall for some 30 days, followed by another month of hand-walking.
He has sired 92 stakes winners to date.