12/22/2008 12:00AM

Council Member carries on for Seattle Slew


When Council Member retired from racing during the summer, his departure from the racetrack marked the end of an era. He was the last progeny of the mighty Seattle Slew to race.

Seattle Slew - the winner of the 1977 Triple Crown, a four-time champion and an enormously influential sire - died in 2002. Council Member was part of Seattle Slew's final crop, and he has a chance to carry on his sire's influence.

This winter, Council Member enters stud at Special T Thoroughbreds in Temecula, Calif. He will stand for $4,000 and has already been well-received by California breeders, who are notoriously slow to book mares.

"He's an absolute knockout stallion," farm owner Rick Taylor said last week. "I've stood a lot of horses, and a lot of successful ones. He's already got 29 mares booked, even with the bad times."

Council Member, 6, won 5 of 24 starts and $347,306, racing in England and the United States. He was bought as a weanling for $800,000 by Sheikh Mohammed's Darley Stable and raced for him in England, winning two minor sprint stakes on turf.

Council Member joined Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin Racing stable in the U.S. in early 2007, and won optional claimers over six furlongs at Belmont Park and Saratoga. Later that year, he finished third in the Grade 3 Sport Page Handicap at Aqueduct.

Last fall, Council Member caught the attention of Karen and Mickey Taylor, who campaigned Seattle Slew. They bought Council Member privately and transferred him to trainer David Hofmans in California.

Council Member made the final seven starts of his career in graded stakes for Hofmans and trainer John Hertler in New York. Council Member finished fourth in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Mile Handicap in May and ended his career after a fifth-place finish in the Grade 2 Tom Fool Handicap at Belmont Park in July.

In the late 1990s and earlier this decade, Rick Taylor managed Golden Eagle Farm in Ramona, Calif. At the time, Golden Eagle stood two stallions by Seattle Slew - Avenue of Flags and General Meeting. Karen and Mickey Taylor kept in touch with Rick Taylor on the developments of those stallions.

"I think [Council Member] will throw a pretty sound horse," Rick Taylor said. "He ran until 6. I think we'll have to get away from these muscle-bound horses on these synthetic tracks anyway.

"He's not the biggest horse in the world. He's really well-balanced. He won on turf and dirt and he looks like he might have that synthetic thing going for him a little bit. The synthetic horses seem a little more like 'turfy' horses."

When Council Member was retired, Rick Taylor lobbied for the stallion to stand at his farm. Karen and Mickey Taylor have sent 12 mares to Special T in support of Council Member, Rick Taylor said.

"They had several offers to stand him in other places - Kentucky, Louisiana and Florida," Taylor said. "I think he'll help California. You can't get a much better-bred horse around here. You go back and look what Slew has done as a sire of sires and a broodmare sire. To have that original line alive in California is a big plus for California. You could get any kind of racing prospect."

That's the salesman in Taylor talking, but he has a point. Seattle Slew was the sire of the champion racehorse and leading sire A.P. Indy as well as the American champions Slew o'Gold, Surfside, Swale, Capote, and Landaluce.

Rick Taylor is hopeful Council Member's lineage will help lure breeders to the stallion in a tough economic market.