Equine Obituaries: Seattle Slew the biggest name lost in 2002.
THE greatest thoroughbred to die in 2002 was Seattle Slew, the only surviving US Triple Crown winner at the time of his death in May at the age of 28.
A cheap yearling, Seattle Slew was a champion in each of the three seasons he raced. In 1977 he became the only horse to win the US Triple Crown while still unbeaten (though he was later beaten three times) and he gained his 14 victories by an average margin of nearly five lengths.
He became a legend in his own lifetime and, among American champions, only Secretariat
and Citation can be rated his superior.
Seattle Slew then proved an outstanding sire, with Slew o' Gold, Swale and AP Indy among his sons. Throughout his life he showed supreme class.
Another great American champion, Sunday Silence, died in Japan in August aged 16 after a long battle with leg problems.
Sunday Silence met his arch-rival Easy Goer four times in 1989 and beat him into second place in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Breeders' Cup Classic.
Easy Goer thwarted his bid for the Triple Crown in the Belmont Stakes.
Sunday Silence became the world's most successful sire, dominating the stallion ranks in Japan to an even greater degree than Sadler's Wells does in Europe.
Seattle Slew and Sunday Silence were two of the four US Horses of the Year to die in the last 12 months, the others being Conquistador Cielo (1982) and Spend A Buck (1985).
America also lost 1981 Kentucky Derby winner Pleasant Colony, notable sires Raja Baba (at the age of 34) and Kris S, and Left Bank, who won the Whitney Handicap in August and died after an operation for colic in October.
Five English Classic winners died last year: 2,000 Guineas victors Doyoun (1988), Nashwan (1989) and Zafonic (1993), plus Bireme (1980 Oaks) and Shadayid (1991 1,000 Guineas).
Nashwan, who died in July aged 16, is the only 2,000 Guineas winner since Nijinsky to go on to victory in the Derby, and he also took the Eclipse and King George.
He is the only horse ever to win those four races in the same year, though Royal Palace won them over two seasons.
Nashwan's half-brother, 1988 King George runner-up Unfuwain, also died, as did Mozart, who had been
champion sprinter in 2001, and three Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe runners-up: ...pervier Bleu (1990), El Condor Pasa (1999) and the filly Egyptband (2000).
El Condor Pasa was Japan's greatest champion judged on the quality of his best form, for it took Montjeu to beat him in Europe's premier weight-for-age event.