Updated on 09/16/2011 7:56AM

Seattle Slew recovering

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Seattle Slew is recovering from surgery on Saturday to fuse the joint between two vertebrae that had been affected by arthritic changes.

The surgery, the second of its kind for Seattle Slew, took place at the Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Ky. Seattle Slew, the 1977 Triple Crown winner who is now 28, underwent the same procedure in April 2000, after arthritic changes in a different area pressed on the horse's spinal cord, causing him to lose coordination.

Dr. Barrie Grant, who headed the surgical team in 2000, handled the procedure again.

"Surgery, anesthesia, and his recovery went well," Three Chimneys veterinarian Dr. Jim Morehead said in a release the farm issued on Sunday. Morehead said that less than three hours after surgery, Seattle Slew's longtime groom, Tom Wade, led the horse from the surgery barn to the hospital barn.

Three Chimneys expects Seattle Slew, the only surviving Triple Crown winner and the oldest living Kentucky Derby winner, to remain at Rood and Riddle for as long as 10 days before returning to the farm. His future as a stallion is unclear.

Seattle Slew - sire of more than 100 stakes winners, including such champions as A. P. Indy - has been a highly fashionable and successful sire in the last two decades. He stands for a private fee, but no-guarantee seasons to him have sold for $150,000. He had covered nine mares in 2002 before being taken out of stud service on Feb. 25 for an examination that revealed the need for the second surgery.

Dr. George Bagby, designer of the Bagby basket device that the surgeons implanted in Seattle Slew's vertebral column, observed the procedure. The basket, used to fuse joints between vertebrae, was also used in the 2000 surgery but has since been modified specifically to accommodate old horses' bones.

Grant estimated recovery time at between six and eight weeks.