Friday, May 7, 2010

Seatle (for Seattle)

On May 7, 1977, the American racehorse Seattle Slew won the Kentucky Derby, on his way to winning the Triple Crown.

The horse was named, naturally, for the city of Seattle. “Slew” comes from the sloughs (slow-moving channels) loggers used to move heavy logs. His owners thought the spelling, slough, would be difficult to remember, so they changed it to Slew.

Looking down a list of the names of Derby winners is quite interesting. Themes quickly appear: many horses are given combative names featuring speed or strength, like Assault, Cannonade, Exterminator, and Jet Pilot. Other names recognize the inherent gamble involved in horse racing: Bold Venture, Spectacular Bid, and Genuine Risk.

Then, there are those names that stick out for being different and slightly perplexing: horses called Needles, Ponder, Macbeth II, Iron Liege, and Behave Yourself.

Leanne Olson

(Photo of Slew with Paul Mallory as a foal at White Horse farms on August 5th, 1974, from

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