From the New York Times crossword, August 16, 2015
23 Across Triple Crown winner who himself sired a Kentucky Derby Winner
This year when American Pharoah won the Triple Crown, he earned a spot with a select group of horses who have achieved that success. Considering that it had been over thirty years since Affirmed won in 1978. Among his colleagues in this elite group, is the answer to today’s clue: Seattle Slew.
He was purchased by Mickey and Karen Taylor for the small sum of $17,500 (compared to this year’s winner, American Pharoah who was purchased for $250,000). Karen was a flight attendant, and her husband, Mickey, working in logging. As they lived in White Swan, Washington, they decided to name their horse after the city of Seattle and added Slew to the name in honor of the sloughs used in logging transport.
His appearance did not exactly inspire confidence as he had a curved right foot that caused him to sway when he ran, causing one trainer to nickname “Baby Huey”. However, it wasn’t long before he garnered some positive attention when he won the Belmont Stakes in his maiden race – winning by five lengths.
After winning his next three races in 1977, he came to the Kentucky Derby undefeated. After a rough start which caused an injury at his bridle, his jockey, Jean Cruguet, corrected him, and he won the Derby by almost two lengths over the favorite. Winning at the Preakness, his time was only seconds behind the all-time record.
While all other nine Triple Crown winners had come to the Belmont with at least one loss under their belt, Seattle Slew blew that record as well – being the first undefeated horse to win the Triple Crown. Not surprisingly, offers for him came in from all over. Seattle Slew continued to race evening beating the next year’s Triple Crown winner, Affirmed, in a race at the Marlboro Cup.
But what about the above clue – just which winners did he sire? Well, in fact, there were many. Rags to Riches, his granddaughter, won the Belmont in 2007 – giving trainer Todd Pletcher, his first victory. The Derby (and Preakness) winner he sired, however, was California Chrome who created considerable excitement in 2014.
He died on May 7, 2002 – twenty-five years to the day when he won the Kentucky Derby. He was buried whole – an incredible honor for a horse and was buried with his favorite blanket and a bag of peppermints – a perennial favorite of his.