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Web Design &
1974 - 1994 - Thoroughbred Champion
(Never Bend -
Hill Shade, Hillary)
the Swaps Stakes in 1977
The Thoroughbred Record,
24 May 1978).
The Day J O Tobin Slew the Slew
Video of J. O. Tobin's Memorable Race
Barrera's Best Week
O. Tobin (1974), a big black
Thoroughbred by Never Bend out of Hill Shade (by
Hillary) was the
Champion (1976) and United States Three-Year-Old Champion Sprinter
(1977). J. O. Tobin is the sire of Magical Mile
TB, the maternal great-grandsire of Rare News.
for no other accomplishment -- and his accomplishments were
many -- J. O. Tobin will be remembered because he gave the undefeated Seattle Slew his
first crushing loss (after 9 wins) at the Swaps Stakes, Hollywood
J. O. Tobin was
ridden by legendary jockey Bill Shoemaker
that day. He led every step. He beat Seattle Slew by
8-lengths and missed the track and world record for 1 1/4 by only
two-fifths of a second.
The Day J. O. Tobin Slew The
RGTOnline.com (Sports Writer Unknown)
It was the day before J. O. Tobin would get his final tune-up for
his meeting with Seattle Slew.
A disappointing crowd of 31,156 turned out at Hollywood Park. My
beat back in those days was the Southern California horse racing
circuit for the Pasadena Star News.
Seattle Slew waited in the wings.
J.O. Tobin had been rushed into the Preakness by owner George Pope
turned in a smashing effort on this day. Under a feathery 107-pound
impost the three-year-old son of Never Bend established a new track
standard for 1-1/8 miles over the infield turf course at Hollywood
Bill Shoemaker was aboard. J.O. Tobin merely toyed with five
"Let me tell you," Shoemaker said, "that horse (Bill was talking
about Seattle Slew) is gonna have to do some running to beat my
horse. We were only beaten about five lengths by him in the
Preakness, and, believe me, my horse had a lot more trouble than
that in the race."
J.O. Tobin met older horses in his tune-up race. He eclipsed a
six-year-old record of 1:47 1/5. He bettered the record set by Ack
Ack in July of 1971.
Seattle Slew arrived at Los
Angeles Airport by plane along with Hunza Dancer. The bargain $17,500 purchase was whisked off to
Hollywood Park. Veterinarian Jim Hill accompanied the 'Slew. Hill
sedated Seattle Slew for the six-hour flight.
Not since the mid fifties, when famed Swaps was the talk of the
racing world, had so much excitement been generated. Phones were
ringing off the hook at Hollywood Park. Ticket scalpers were using
every ploy to acquire tickets.
The 'Slew's every move was being covered by the media. Seattle Slew
would be going for his 10th consecutive triumph in the 1977 Swaps
Stakes. The pot was $300,000. Not since Citation had a Triple Crown
winner gone on display in California.
"In the 31 years I've been around this is the greatest response
I've ever seen," said Hollypark's operations manager Al Ramsey.
"We've gotten letters from Texas, New York and New Jersey. You name
it. I have a friend of mine up in Las Vegas I haven't heard from in
five years. And, I get this phone call from him. He's congratulating
me, on my new promotion. And, at the end of the conversation, he's
asking me how it looks for Swaps Day."
"Then he asks. By the way. Could I get him 20 tickets for his
clients on Swaps Day? I said, no way! I said that he could come down
and take his best shot with the rest of the people on Swaps Day. I
told him that 3,000 reserved seats would go on sale at 10 a.m. as
soon as the gates open."
There was a group of people who called Hollypark's ticket
department from San Clemente. That's a beach community midway
between Los Angeles and San Diego. They were coming to the Inglewood
oval at 5 a.m. on race day. They planned to wait at the gates until
they were opened.
Brokers were trying to buy blocks of 50 to 100 tickets. All of
these people were told the same thing, get in line with everyone
else. Even a religious organization, which claimed they had been
praying for Seattle Slew, tried to acquire tickets.
Extra help was hired by Hollypark. On the day of the big racecars
were to be parked in the stable area, on the Getty oil field north
of the track near Gate 7, and on the perimeter roads. Additional
parking would be available on the polo field.
Seattle Slew was bedded down in barn 60. He had more security than
Cuba's Fidel Castro. They roped the Slew's area off. The colt,
reportedly insured at a cost of $3,000 weekly, seemed undaunted by
all the hoopla.
The Thursday prior to the big race Seattle Slew came out to gallop
one and a half times around the oval with Mike Kennedy. All eyes
were on the champion.
I remember this day like yesterday. Trainers lined up their ponies
at the gap in order to watch. The guiney stand was packed by the
curious. Seattle Slew looked the part. He looked strong and rugged.
He handled the track well. Trainer Billy Turner was pleased.
Seattle Slew bumper stickers and T-shirts were being sold.
Hollywood Park obtained permission to use a special S-Slew code on
its pari-mutuel tickets for the Swaps Day Stakes. They were
projecting a minus pool in the betting. Management was too concerned
about it. Thousands of tickets backing Seattle Slew would never be
The Slew had slain 87 foes in nine starts. After winning the
Belmont, it was revealed a total of $125,000 had been returned to
the state of New York. That figure probably represented uncashed
tickets fans had retained as souvenirs.
At the draw for post positions Seattle Slew drew the two slot. Post
four went to J.O. Tobin. A surprise entry of Mr. Red Wing upped the
field to seven. The gross value of the 1-1/4 mile event would be
Seattle Slew's success story began Sept., 20, 1976. He broke his
maiden by five lengths at Belmont Park. It was the beginning of
something big in horse racing.
He had three lengths to spare in an allowance race victory at the
distance of seven furlongs in October. The Slew's next test was the
Champagne at the distance of a mile. He led every step in 1:34 2/5.
The winning margin was 10 open lengths.
"After the Champagne," recalls part owner Mickey Taylor, "we knew
we had something special."
Trainer Turner was calling the shots. The Slew, without question,
was something extra-ordinary. It was on to Hialeah for an allowance
race. He scored by nine and smashed the track record for seven with
a clocking of 1:20 3/5.
The Flamingo was next. The result was the same. Seattle Slew scored
by four over Giboulee.
Next came the Wood Memorial. It was a wire-to-wire win for the Slew
at the Big A.
They were ready for the Triple Crown.
"He educated this horse like no human being," said horseracing
expert Frank Tours who was working for the New York Racing
Association. "You should have been there the day of the cloudburst
and they wound up walking him. Those hard boots were going out of
their minds. No way, they said, would he win the Derby with tactics
like that. But he did."
And win the Derby he did. Breaking badly, the nation watched
Seattle Slew plough his way through the field going for the first
turn. He went on to win. The roses were in the hands of the Slew
Historic wins in the Preakness at Pimlico and the Belmont completed
the grand slam. The Triple Crown was his.
You would think credentials like that would scare off all comers.
Not so! There were those who gave J.O. Tobin a good chance of
halting Slew's win string in the Swaps at Hollywood Park.
Jockey Jean Cruget should have known it was not going to be his
day. Cruget got into an altercation with a gateman trying to enter
Hollypark on the day of the big race.
J.O. Tobin scored a smashing eight-length triumph in the Swaps. He
got an assist from jockey Darrel McHargue aboard Text.
missed the track and world record for 1-1/4 by only two-fifths of a
The winner took the track away from Seattle Slew from the start. J.O. Tobin led every step under Shoemaker.
finished second. Text ran third.
The Slew had been slain. It was sad. He finished 16 lengths back of
the winner in fourth.
A crowd of 68,115 jammed into Hollywood Park. They came to cheer
for Seattle Slew and backed him to the hilt. They bet a record
$659,742 on the colt who was going for his tenth straight.
Around the clubhouse turn, McHargue Text positioned on the outside
flank of Seattle Slew on turn one. Cruget was caught in a switch
aboard Seattle Slew. His famed mount nearly clipped heels. J.O.
Tobin was being geared down a bit while racing on the lead. The Slew
had no place to go. Cruget had to check his horse.
J.O. Tobin, the English champion as a two-year-old, opened up a
clear lead down the backstraight. The Slew continued racing inside
Text. He inched into second as they approached the half-mile pole.
That's when you knew, the undefeated string of the Slew was in
Shoemaker was engineering another one of his fantastic
front-running rides. The Shoe asked J.O. Tobin to open up a bit off
the turn. There was a deafening roar from the large crowd. Fans
jammed closer to railing to get a better view.
The Slew was a beaten horse with three-sixteenths of a mile to go.
When Seattle Slew returned to the unsaddling area, the fans let him
know they had come to see him run. It sent chills up my spine.
"I knew we were beat into the first turn," said Cruget. "He just
wasn't himself—at least in the race. He was fine warming up. And the
track was fine. He didn't have any problems handling the track. He
just didn't fire."
Cruget made no reference to his altercation with the gateman.
"I didn't expect to be on the lead," said Shoemaker. "But when he
broke so well I just went on with him. When the gate opened
like a bullet. Today he got it all together. I think this is a good
horse. I think, if he had run like this in the Preakness, he would
have beaten Seattle Slew."
During the press conference, Shoemaker was asked if he felt J.O.
Tobin was a better horse than Seattle Slew? "I don't think he would
have beaten him today or in any race he has ever run," said Shoe. "I
don't know how much better he is, but I think he's a better horse."
It marked Shoe's 7,244th lifetime win. It gave him is 703rd
conquest in a stakes race.
Shoemaker felt J.O. Tobin's Preakness race was much better than
many had thought. Why, owner Pope was asked, had they dodged Seattle
Slew in the Belmont if they felt J.O. Tobin's Preakness effort was
so good? Pope didn't have a good answer.
The facts were trainer Johnny Adams had been pushed into hurrying J.O. Tobin to make the Preakness. It was well known that Pope ran
the show. J.O. Tobin simply had so much talent he was able to bounce
back in the Swaps. He overcame it all.
They ran the last race at Hollywood Park on that famed day around 7
p.m. The third largest crowd in history had bet an all time record
of $7,232,800. That sounds like peanuts compared to the big numbers
that have been racked up since the inception of simulcasting. The
last of the cars were leaving the stable area where the overflow had
been jammed at about 8:35 p.m.
Mickey Taylor, co-owned of Seattle Slew, said it all: "He just
didn't fire. He got beat by a very good horse. I'm Sorry we
disappointed the wonderful people in California."
YouTube video of
J.O.Tobin slaying "The Slew"
Jockey Bill Shoemaker raises his whip
as he rides his mount Ferdinand
to win the Kentucky Derby,
J. O. Tobin
J. O. Tobin Race
Record & Information
1974 - 94
Two-year old Champion in England,
three-year old Champion Sprinter in the U.S.
21 Starts, 12 - 2 - 2, $659,416
Won: Laurent Perrier Champagne S.-G2 (ENG), Richmond S.-G2 (ENG),
Swaps S.-G1, Coronado H., Californian S.-G1, Malibu S.-G2, San
Bernardino H.-G2, Premiere H., Los Angeles H.-G2, Tom Fool H. 2nd:
San Fernando S.-G2, 3rd: Grand Criterium-G1 (FR), Charles H. Strub
S.-G1. 1976 Top-Weighted Great Britain Free Handicap for 2YO - 7
furlongs: 133 lbs. (Champion 2YO). 1978 Eclipse Award: Co-Champion
Sprinter (w/Dr. Patches). Set NTR Hollywood Park, 9f 1:47.0.
Handed Seattle Slew first lifetime defeat in the 1977 Swaps Stakes.
Owner: George A. Pope Jr.
Breeder: George A. Pope Jr.
State Bred: MD
Trainers: Johnny Adams, Lazaro Barrera
Sire of 500 foals, 386 starters, 270
winners with 942 wins.
Great-grandsire of Rare
J. O. Tobin (with
trainer John Adams)
on the cover of
the Thoroughbred Record,
20 July 1977.
From the Thoroughbred RECORD, 24 May
Barrera's Best Week
by Leon Rasmussen
Back to back Eclipse
Award-winning trainer Lazaro Barrera is getting to the place
where his latest achievements can only be compared to those he has
Who will ever forget the day he
saddled Bold Forbes to win the Kentucky Derby of 1976? On that same
afternoon hores prepared by him won the Illinois Derby (Life's Hope)
and the Carter handicap (Due Diligence). So that was a day among
But the week and a day which included
Affirmed's Kentucky Derby will do until eight more days like them
On the Wednesday following the "rose
run." Barrera was back in California in time to watch his son Larry
saddle Harbor View Farm and Jacobs's Reminiscing for her popular
victory in the $43,450 Sequoia Handicap. The following morning he
supervised J. O. Tobin's final workout prior to Sunday's $214,550
Californian, then telephoned final instructions for Leslie Combs
II's Mashteen who was to win the Comely Handicap at the Big A
Sunday, May 14, he lifted
Steve Cauthen into the saddle aboard J. O. Tobin, who was to prove a
completely-in-charge winner of the 1 1/16th-mile Californian
by 2 1/2 lengths over
Elmendorf's Replant. with Loblolly Stabele's Cox's Ridge (losing for
the first time in seven starts) third another 1 1/2 lengths out of
it and 1 1/4 lengths before Caballero Handicap winner, Bad 'n Big.
time of 1:41 was the fastest of the meeting at the distance.
O. Tobin, the 1-to-2 choice, it was his sixth win in as many starts
at Hollywood Park over the past two seasons, including his
earth-shaking victory over Seattle Slew in last July's Swaps Stakes.
For his latest success the
four-year-old son of Never Bend earned $124,550, upping his career
total to $606,805, $302,350 of which he has picked up this year.
Carrying 126 pounds...,
J. O. Tobin, as tractable as a sheep
dog, was reserved off the early pace
set by Replant and prompted by Bad 'n Big. (Barrera gave 'Tobin
a nine-furlong gallop the morning of the race.)
[Barrera told George A. Pope, Jr.
breeder and owner of J. O. Tobin] "Each race he's run here has been
better than the one before it. I told Steve not to worry about going
to the front. He rode him perfectly."
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