When Swale won the 1984 Kentucky Derby-G1, the victory belonged to more than a single generation. Both the colt’s second and third dams (Continue, Courtesy) were bred and raised at Claiborne, and his dam, homebred Tuerta, won the 1972 Blue Hen S., in what was to be the last time A. B. (Bull) Hancock Jr. saw the Claiborne silks carried to victory in a stakes race. Swale’s grandsire (Bold Reasoning) and great grandsire (Bold Ruler) both stood at Claiborne, so it was fitting that Ben Castleman (breeder of Swale’s sire Seattle Slew) was quick to credit Seth Hancock with the mating that produced Seattle Slew.
As a young horse, Swale was known for an inclination to take naps. One morning, it appeared that the colt was missing from his paddock. Concern ensued, then finally a farm worker noticed the distinct sound of snoring. There, in a dip in the ground obscured from sight, the colt was found – stretched out and fast asleep. It was this incident that prompted Mrs. A. B. Hancock Jr. to select the name Swale.
“He trains like a good one,” Woody Stephens said about the colt in the summer of his 2-year-old year, and the legendary trainer was right. That season, Swale won the Saratoga Special, Futurity S., Breeders’ Futurity and Young America S. In his 3-year-old debut, Swale won the Hutcheson S. by eight, then held off a late challenge to win the Florida Derby. In the Kentucky Derby, Swale’s performance was text book. He settled just off the pace, then pulled away from the field in the stretch to win by 3 1/4 lengths. After a loss in the Preakness S., Swale redeemed himself in the Belmont S.-G1 with a four-length primer on how to win.
Tragedy struck eight days later, when Swale collapsed and died suddenly at his Belmont Park barn after a routine morning gallop. An autopsy revealed small lesions in the heart region which could have produced fatal arrhythmia.
Buried at Claiborne.