In addition to exceptional speed, Gamine (by Into Mischief) and Yaupon (Uncle Mo) share some other factors. In pedigree most notably, both are male-line representatives of Lord Derby’s famed stallion Phalaris through his grandson Nearco, thence through Nearco’s sons Nasrullah (Yaupon) and Nearctic (Gamine).
The winners of the Grade 1 Ballerina Handicap and Forego Stakes at Saratoga descend from the epochal 20th century sire Phalaris not only in the male line but also through numerous collateral lines in their pedigrees.
And in the bottom halves of their pedigrees, their dam’s half of the pedigree tree, is the name of a Phalaris-line horse who became one of the hottest “secrets” of the 1976 racing season with his morning works at Saratoga. The dark brown, nearly black, son of the first-season sire Bold Reasoning had an unfamiliar name and was trained by a relatively unknown conditioner named Bill Turner.
Seattle Slew, his trainer, and the members of the Slew Crew did not stay unfamiliar.
The burly, dark-coated colt was delighting clockers at Saratoga with works that allegedly included at least one three-furlong move in :33 and change that was reported as a time more expected from an unraced 2-year-old.
Clockers, who are paid something less than brain surgeons, were as reluctant as anyone to let a good thing go by without making the most of it, but Seattle Slew was one of the worst-kept secrets of the Saratoga backside that summer of 1976.
A knock in a stall kept the colt from starting at the Spa, but when he was unveiled at Belmont Park on Sept. 20, Seattle Slew was the favorite at 5-to-2. He won by five lengths.
The colt’s next race was a solid allowance victory on Oct. 5, but Seattle Slew’s third start came only 11 days later in the Champagne Stakes at a mile. Favored at slightly more than even money, Seattle Slew was quickly away from the gate, made every pole a winning one, and cruised home the victor by 9 3/4 lengths.
That race elevated ‘Slew’ to a sports celebrity, and even among fans relatively removed from the racetrack, the colt became a focus of great interest to professionals and novices alike.
A champion at two after those three dominating performances, Seattle Slew returned at three to win his prep races and the Triple Crown without defeat, then lost the Swaps Stakes to J.O. Tobin (Never Bend) and did not race again until four.
Horse of the Year and champion 3-year-old in 1977, Seattle Slew returned to racing from a 10-month layoff in May 1978 with a new trainer, Doug Peterson. The dashing colt had lost none of his ability but managed to lose the Paterson Handicap to Dr. Patches (Dr. Fager), who was in receipt of 14 pounds, and as a result, Seattle Slew was not favored in his next start, the Marlboro Cup, where he met 1978 Triple Crown winner Affirmed (Exclusive Native) for the first time.
Although not favorite for the only time in his career, Seattle Slew raced to victory in the Marlboro Cup over nine furlongs in patented style, going to the front and setting quick, steady fractions and maintaining them throughout. The half-mile was :47, the six furlongs in 1:10 1/5, the mile in 1:33 3/5, and the finish at nine furlongs in 1:45 4/5. Affirmed was second by three lengths and simply could not gain on his competitor.
So Harbor View Farm sat out the Woodward Stakes, where Seattle Slew performed the same sort of summary execution, racing in front the whole way and winning by four lengths in 2:00 for the 10 furlongs. The very high-class multi-surface performer Exceller (Vaguely Noble) was second, 6 3/4 lengths ahead of the third horse.
When the champions reconvened in two weeks for the Jockey Club Gold Cup at 12 furlongs, Seattle Slew set off to do the same thing again, but Affirmed’s saddle slipped, and Harbor View Farm’s chestnut champion raced to the fore (along with stablemate Life’s Hope) and challenged Seattle Slew head to head through the first three-quarters of the Gold Cup with fractions of :22 3/5, :45 1/5, and 1:09 2/5.
Those fractions finished both Affirmed and Life’s Hope, but Seattle Slew kept on as Exceller closed the gap between, then raced ahead by at least a half-length at one point in the stretch. Seattle Slew, under Angel Cordero, came back and missed winning the race by a nose.
A winner in 14 of 17 starts, Seattle Slew had proved his speed and gameness to fans, historians, and notably to breeders, many of whom supported him well when he went to stud the following spring at Spendthrift Farm.
From the champion’s first crop came champions Landaluce and Slew o’ Gold, from his second crop came champion and classic winner Swale. A success from the start, Seattle Slew has become an important factor for strong bodies, solid bone, and high speed in the racehorse.