Simply Slewpendous
May 18, 2002 - The Blood-Horse
by Lenny Shulman

Any number of reasons explain Seattle Slew's vast popularity among racing fans: talent, speed, and the daring of a black rocket careening fearlessly down a racetrack. But foremost, he embodied the American dreama seemingly average being who proved to be a champion in every conceivable way.

Consider his good-but-not-great pedigree, the discount auction price, the two young couples of normal means who were fortunate enough to call him their own, and the catchy name that encompassed the nation he conquered, from the modern city of the Northwest to the swamps of Florida.

This was the people's horse, and they backed him every step of the way. Only once in his 17 trips to the post did the faithful fail to send him off as favorite. And he in turn never betrayed their belief in him, returning to the winner's circle 14 times.

Only a nose and a neck and an unfortunate decision to run him three weeks after his Triple Crown campaign stood between Slew and an unbeaten career.

If his race record were his sole legacy, that would have been plenty good enough to ensure his place in immortality. But great as his exploits were between starting gate and finish line, they comprise not even half the story. In his next incarnation, Seattle Slew became the most influential sire of his generation, outpacing fellow Triple Crown conquerors Secretariat and Affirmed.

And still, beyond the statistics of the racetrack and breeding shed, there was more. The majesty of his presence was so encompassing, to be near him and have his eye fall upon you was to be touched by greatness. He knew it, and you did too.

He changed uncountable lives, but none more than his owners', Karen and Mickey Taylor, and his groom's, Tom Wade. The Taylors have been called eccentric and more, but know this: As the infirmities mounted and age took its inevitable toll, nobody has ever been more dedicated to, and shown more love for, an animal than did the Taylors for Seattle Slew. In the most difficult and heart-wrenching times, they never left his side. Such is the power of a Seattle Slew that his greatness so often brought out the best of what we humans have to give.

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