Frankel

Frankel  You may or may not agree with the so-called “historical recalibration” of the World Thoroughbred Rankings, which downgraded Dancing Brave, winner of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in 1986, by 3lb, to leave Frankel, officially, the best horse since international ranking began in 1977. However, on his retirement to stud following his fourteenth consecutive victory, in the Champion Stakes at Ascot in October, 2012, Frankel had won 10 Group 1 races between 7 furlongs and 1 mile 2½ furlongs and just £1,698 short of £3 million in prize money, so there is no doubt he was a extraordinary racehorse.

 

Bred by Juddmonte Farms and trained by the late Sir Henry Cecil, Frankel started favourite for all 14 starts and was sent off at odds-against just once, on his debut in a maiden race, over a mile, at Newmarket in August, 2010. Having readily beaten subsequent King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes winner Nathaniel by half a length on that occasion, he won his next two starts by 13 lengths and 10 lengths, respectively.

 

Frankel recorded his first Group 1 win – a comfortable, 2¼-length victory over subsequent Irish 2,000 Guineas winner Roderic O’Connor – in the Dewhurst Stakes, over 7 furlongs, at Newmarket in October, 2010. His unblemished juvenile season led to him being named Cartier Two-Year-Old Colt. It was a similar story in 2011, too, when further Group 1 victories in the 2,000 Guineas, the St. James’s Palace Stakes, the Sussex Stakes and the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes made him Cartier Three-Year-Old Colt and Cartier Horse of the Year.

 

In 2012, Frankel was untroubled to win all five starts – all in Group 1 company and all at long odds-on – which made him Cartier Champion Older Horse and Cartier Horse of the Year for the second year running. He became the most decorated horse since the Cartier Awards began in 1991.

Seattle Slew

Seattle Slew  Seattle Slew was voted American Horse of the Year in 1977, the year in which he became the tenth of thirteen horses to win the American Triple Crown. In fact, Until Justify, in 2018, Seattle Slew was the only undefeated American Triple Crown winner in history.

 

Seattle Slew was bred by Ben S. Castleman Sr., owned by Mickey and Karen Taylor and Jim and Sally Hill – who became known, collectively, as the “Slew Crew” – and trained, initially, by William H. “Billy” Turner Jr. He won all three starts as a juvenile, including the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park, by 9¾ lengths, and was named American Champion Two-Year-Old Male Horse in 1976.

 

He also won the first three starts of his three-year-old campaign and, undefeated in six starts, was sent off 1/2 favourite for the Kentucky Derby. Ridden by Jean Cruguet, Seattle Slew pulled away at the top of the home straight, eventually beating Run Dusty Run by 1¾ lengths. He subsequently started 2/5 favourite for the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes, beating Iron Constitution by 1½ lengths in the former and Run Dusty Run by 4 lengths in the latter, to take his career record to nine wins from nine starts.

 

Later that season, Seattle Slew was shipped, somewhat controversially, to California, with connections lured by the increased prize money, of over $300,000, offered for the Swaps Stakes at Hollywood Park Racetrack. Having been unable to dominate and boxed in for most of the way, Seattle Slew couldn’t land a blow behind the winner, J.O. Tobin, and eventually finished fourth, beaten 16 lengths. Subsequent recriminations led to the sacking of Turner and his replacement with Douglas R. Peterson.

 

As a four-year-old, in 1978, Seattle Slew was beaten, at odds of 1/5, in the Paterson Handicap at Meadowlands Racetrack, after which Jean Cruguet lost the ride. However, under new jockey, Angel Cordero Jr., he beat Triple Crown winner Affirmed by 3 lengths in the Marlboro Cup at Belmont Park, in a time just 0.40 seconds outside the world record set by Secretariat in the same race five years earlier. At the end of his career, Seattle Slew had won 14 of his 17 races and over $1.2 million in prize money.

War Admiral

War Admiral  War Admiral became just the fourth horse – after Sir Barton, Gallant Fox and Omaha – to win the American Triple Crown and was subsequently voted American Horse of the Year in 1937, ahead of Sea Biscuit. By Man o’War out of the diminutive broodmare Brushup, War Admiral stood just 15.2 hands high. He was once described by Neville Dunn of the Lexington Herald as “a little brown horse that takes after his mammy in size” and known in some quarters as “The Mighty Atom”. However, his ability more than compensated for his lack of stature; he won 21 of his 26 races and over £273,000 in prize money.

 

Bred and owned by Samuel D. Riddle and trained by George Conway, War Admiral won three of his six starts as a juvenile and his first two starts as a three-year-old, before Riddle made the unusual decision, by his standards, to allow him to take his chance in the Kentucky Derby. After playing up at the start, War Admiral made all the running under jockey Charles Kurtsinger and gradually increased his advantage from the home turn to beat Pompoon by 1¾ lengths.

 

In the Preakness Stakes, just seven days later, War Admiral was again fractious at the start and, although he held a lead of a length or more entering the home straight, he had to withstand a strong challenge from Pompoon in the closing stages, scraping home by a head.

 

In the Belmont Stakes, after again delaying the start, for eight minutes, War Admiral stumbled leaving the starting gate and was later found to have struck into himself, taking an inch-square chunk out of his off forefoot. Despite the obvious handicap, War Admiral not only routed his six rivals by 3 lengths – winning with “speed to spare”, according to the Daily Racing Form – but also broke the track record set by his sire, Man o’War, in the same race 17 years earlier. Despite the injury, War Admiral finished 1937 with a perfect eight-from-eight record.

 

The following November, he started favourite for the long-awaited showdown with Sea Biscuit in the inaugural Pimlico Special. The so-called “Match of the Century” was run without a starting gate, at the behest of Samuel Riddle, and was widely believed to favour War Admiral, granted his early speed. However, Seabiscuit poached an early lead and, although War Admiral drew alongside heading into the far turn, drew away in the closing stages to win by 4 lengths.