When he raced he was known as Taj Ah Cailie. Now he is known around the house as Earl.
However, no matter what name he goes by, the gelding belongs to one of Thoroughbred racing’s greatest bloodlines.
Earl/Taj Ah Cailie, whose grandsire is 1977 Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew, will be one of the highlights during the annual Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Washington (BBBSSW) BIG Auction October 12 at Little Creek Casino Resort. Guests are promised a fun-filled evening that supports the youth in our community.
The 22-year-old Earl will be a part of the Kentucky Derby-themed event as guests will get a chance to meet and take a photo with the former racehorse. Tickets are available now.
“As a committee, each year we try to come up with a theme that will be fun for all attendees to get into,” said Joanna West, BIG Auction committee member and marketing director at Washington Business Bank. “We like to make it unique. I think having a horse of Earl’s pedigree at the auction certainly makes our BIG Derby unique.”
Taj Ah Cailie, a Washington-bred son of Taj Alriyadh, out of Danz’n Lady, may not have had Seattle Slew’s resume, but was still quite successful during his racing days, making 42 career starts with seven wins, five seconds and three thirds. After retiring from racing, he became a gaming horse, participating in equestrian events.
His grandsire is one of racing’s greatest champions and the first horse to win the prestigious Triple Crown undefeated.
Mickey and Karen Taylor, of White Swan, Washington, entered the 1975 Fasig-Tipton July yearling sale with the goal of not exceeding their $13,000 budget. A dark bay son of Bold Reasoning altered that plan relatively quickly. It didn’t take long for the rapidly rising bids to surpass the Taylor’s ceiling, but a well-placed elbow from Karen into Mickey’s side convinced her husband to press on.
Eventually, the Taylors, along with New York-based veterinarian Jim Hill and his wife, Sally, purchased the colt for a $17,500 – a bargain price even 44 years ago for what would turn out to be one of racing’s greatest runners of all time.
Equal parts speed and power, Seattle Slew won 14 of 17 career starts with $1,208,726 in lifetime earnings.
Nicknamed “Baby Huey” after the cartoon character due to his size and awkwardness as a juvenile, Seattle Slew broke his maiden his first time out, winning a 6-furlong affair by 5 lengths at Belmont Park in New York. He closed out his 2-year-old campaign a perfect 3 for 3, highlighted by a win in the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes before being named champion 2-year-old colt in 1976.
The next year Seattle Slew began his trail to the Kentucky Derby by winning a pair of races at Hialeah Park in Florida, including an easy win in the Grade 1 Flamingo Stakes, before winning the Grade 1 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct.
Two weeks later, Seattle Slew was at Churchill Downs competing in the 103rd running of the Kentucky Derby. Going off as the heavy 1-to-2 betting choice, Seattle Slew, under regular rider Jean Cruguet, defeated Run Dusty Run by 1 3/4 lengths.
Seattle Slew was even more impressive at Pimlico in Baltimore two weeks later, winning the Preakness over a muddy track in a time of 1:54 2/5 – one of the fastest in the race’s 102-year history.
Up next was the Belmont Stakes, the final gem in racing’s Triple Crown which more than deserved its nickname of “The Test of the Champion” with its 1 1/2-mile distance.
Secretariat ended a 25-year gap between Triple Crown winners, becoming the first horse since the great Citation in 1948 to earn the distinction in 1973. Seattle Slew made sure the drought only reached three years this time around as he did not disappoint in the Belmont Stakes, winning the race by a comfortable 4 lengths to become the first horse in history to win the Triple Crown undefeated. Racing would have to wait 41 years for the second thoroughbred to accomplish the feat with Justify in 2018.
Seattle Slew closed out 1977 by suffering his first loss, losing to J.O. Tobin in the Grade 1 Swaps at Hollywood Park.
The setback did little to discourage the fans at Longacres in Renton as the Taylors elected to ship their champion colt to the Renton-based oval following his run in the Swaps. Seattle Slew made two appearances at Longacres in early July of 1977. Titled the “Golden Gallup,” Seattle Slew worked over the now-defunct track before a packed crowd. The charity event generated more than $100,000 for both WSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine and the Joe Gottstein Cancer Research Fund at the University of Washington.
In 1978, Seattle Slew raced seven times, posting a record of 5-2-0 with wins in the Marlboro Cup Invitational Handicap (Gr. 1), Woodward Stakes (Gr. 1) and Stuyvesant Handicap, a grade 3 race at Aqueduct on November 11, 1978 which proved to be the colt’s final start.
His most impressive victory in 1978 was easily his win in the Marlboro Cup, the only time during his 17-race career he failed to go off as the favorite. That honor went to 1978 Triple Crown winner Affirmed at 1-to-2 odds.
In the only time two Triple Crown winners raced against each other, Seattle Slew dominated, winning the 1 1/8-mile race in 1:45 4/5 – just missing Secretariat’s world record by two-fifths of a second.
Standing first at Spendthrift Farm in Lexington, Kentucky before moving over to the legendary Three Chimney Farm, Seattle Slew sired more than 1,100 named foals with nearly half winning races and 111 being stakes winners.
Fans can get a firsthand look at the progeny of one of horse racing’s greats at the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Washington BIG Auction. Purchase your tickets now to not miss this rare opportunity.