Stepping gingerly around the epithet he actually used, let us paraphrase coowner Mickey Taylor's response to the latest of persistent reports that Seattle Slew will never race again: "It's all a bunch of bull."

But, after going on - "How they (Miami News) can get away with printing something like that I don't know. It's a joke" - Taylor sounded anything but convinced that he and his partners won't be retiring the Triple Crown thoroughbred to stud posthaste. A purported $12 million from prospective investors is at stake; Taylor, wife Karen and Mr. and Mrs. Jim Hill may not long be able to keep fending off the inquistive as Taylor does, with "Racing's our business; breeding isn't."

Seattle Slew is supposed to "doing better all the time" recovering from an infection, called mild at the time it suddenly arose as he was prepping to run on Hialeah's opening card Jan. 18.

But Taylor says, at best, Slew is probably "a couple of months away" from racing for the first time since July 3 - and, more to the point: "We haven't made any decision . . . about whether we're going to run. Within the next week or so, we're going to have to make up our mind. The colt himself with tell us."

Whinny? Neigh? Probably, nay. Say hay - er, hey - bring on the mares!