RIP Slew City Slew, Ultimate Breed-to-Race Stallion

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(By Avalyn Hunter)

Calling a horse a "breed-to-race sire" might be damning him with faint praise in the commercial market. But for the small owner-breeder looking for a reliable source of winners, there is no higher praise. In the vocabulary of the latter, a breed-to-race sire represents value for the money invested in a stud fee, promising soundness, honesty, and a good chance of getting a horse able to earn its keep.

Few horses have fit that description better than the late Slew City Slew, who died of old age April 3 at Airdrie Stud. While best known as the sire of the popular and versatile California-based gelding Lava Man—the first horse to win grade I races on dirt, turf, and synthetic surfaces—Slew City Slew was a stallion for Everyman. To date, Slew City Slew has 931 foals of racing age: 581 of those foals are winners and 55 are stakes winners. He could get runners on any surface, out of just about anything. And every now and then, he could come up with a horse with real class—all for a stud fee that peaked at $6,000. In his final season 2011, his advertised fee was just $2,500.

A plain, workmanlike horse with the dark bay or brown coat sported by so many of Seattle Slew's progeny, Slew City Slew was "just plain folks" despite his regal heritage and his own racing talent, which was enough to make him a multiple grade I winner in a career spanning four seasons and 42 starts. As good-natured as he was tough and sound, he was about as trustworthy as a stallion can be around farm visitors and children, making him a valuable ambassador for his breed as well as an asset to it. That's about as much as you can ask of any horse, and it is to be hoped that in his final crops—his 2011 crop numbered 13 and he had at least one foal born in 2012—at least one more runner will emerge who will do the "old man" proud and keep the memory of an honest, hard-knocking racehorse and sire fresh and green.

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