On the off chance you haven’t heard, Perry Martin and Steve Coburn’s homebred California Chrome will try to make history on Saturday by winning the Belmont Stakes and becoming horse racing’s first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978. And, living and working in one of the world’s Thoroughbred meccas, that chestnut colt with the big white blaze and those four white socks is a familiar sight on the television, in newspapers, and across the Internet.

The then 28-year-old Seattle Slew with Mickey and Karen Taylor

Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt

All this Triple Crown talk made me think of another horse that claimed racing’s biggest prize, and remains the only horse to do so undefeated prior to his victories in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes. But Seattle Slew, who won the series of races in 1977, also made headlines as a senior horse when he underwent two major neck surgeries in the early 2000s to alleviate neurologic signs caused by wobbler syndrome. And since wobbler syndrome is a condition most commonly identified in younger horses, Seattle Slew’s story is an interesting one all around. Let’s take a look back, with some help from some coverage from The Horse and our sister publication The Blood-Horse.

Long before the horse’s neurologic problems developed, Sea