Seattle Slew came back to the races on a wet and windy day at Aqueduct yesterday and ran away from five rivals in a seven-furlong allowance race, his first start in 10 months.
The 1977 Triple Crown winner and horse of the year splashed home 8 1/4 lengths in front of Proud Arion. Despite a heavy downpour that turned the track into a morass, Seattle Slew turned in fractions of :22-4/5, :45-3/5, 1:10 1/2 and finished in 1:22-4/5. He carried top weight of 122 pounds.
Slew ran in the seventh race, which preceeded the $54,450 Withers Stakes for 3-year-olds.
Wild Oak Plantation's Junction took the lead in the Withers with a little over a half-mile left and won by 4 1/4 lengths over Star De Naskra, with Buckaroo another 1 1/2 back.
Junction, ridden by Mickey Solomone, carried scale weight of 126 pounds over the mile in 1:36 45.
The Withers might have been the feature race, but Seattle Slew was the lure for most of the 16,631 on a rainy Mother's Day.
"We picked a great day, didn't we?" said co-owner Mickey Taylor before Seattle Slew went out into the rain.
The weather didn't seem to bother Slew, which was sent off a staggering 1-to-9 favorite. The opposition certainly didn't bother him.
The dark bay colt, ridden by regular jockey Jean Cruguet, broke evenly from the No. 3 post and stayed with pace-setter Gallant Bob as the two dueeled 10 lengths ahead of the rest through the first 100 yards of the race.
Then Slew, in his first race for new trainer Doug Peterson built up his lead as the field rounded the first turn.
Proud Arion closed to finish second with Capulet's Song third, another length back. He was followed by Gallant Bob, Co Host and Hey Hey J.P.
The race was a prep for Seattle Slew for the May 29 Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park. His last start as a 3-year-old was July 3 when he finished fourth in the Swaps Stakes, 16 lengths behind J.O. Tobin.
Peterson, who took over for Billy Turner late last year, apparently had Slew ready to campaign in Florida in January but the colt contracted a blood disorder that knocked him out of training. Slew is back and is scheduled to race for the remainder of the year before he is retired to stud under a $12 million syndication.
"Our plan was to run him three times in the spring and then go for the Marlboro Cup in the fall," said Taylor. "We'll probably stick to that plan."