Peter Lee has been a horse racing fan ever since the age of 9, when he saw Seattle Slew win the Triple Crown in 1977. A healthy dose of Walter Farley books (The Black Stallion) fueled his interest, and he has followed horse racing ever since. He is the owner and operator of thewaytochurchilldowns.com, a news blog that chronicles horses’ performances from two-year-olds to the Kentucky Derby. He is also a regular contributor to horseracingnation.com.
The Cast of Characters
A horse with a modest pedigree, sold for $37,000 to a Maryland family. He had won 2 of the 3 races in the Triple Crown, but horrible luck cost him the Belmont Stakes. He went on to win 26 of 30 races.
A gregarious, small-time trainer at the Maryland race tracks who was given the unimpressive horse to train and quickly came to realize that he had the horse of a lifetime. He was brash, cocky, and distrustful of the Kentucky establishment.
The jockey, nineteen-year-old Ron Franklin from Dundalk, Maryland, had been riding horses for only three years and was an apprentice when he started riding Spectacular Bid. Fame, coupled with criticism of the way he rode Bid, hit him hard—he suffered from drug problems for most of his career, and his jockey’s license was eventually taken away from him permanently.
Ron Franklin died this week, and the world didn't notice. The former jockey of Spectacular Bid, one of the greatest horses who ever lived, was 58 years old, the victim of lung cancer. At the time of his death, he was still serving a suspension by the Maryland Racing Commission for various incidents involving cocaine. But 39 years ago, at the tender age of 19, he was on top of the horse racing world, having won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes on board Bid. (more…)
I've decided to self-publish Spectacular Bid: The Last Superhorse of the Twentieth Century after several agents told me horse racing books were not popular right now. I felt like the Beatles being told by Decca that boy bands were not in vogue anymore. (more…)
What People Are Saying
Despite missing out on the elusive Triple Crown, I am convinced Spectacular Bid, along with Secretariat, was one of the two greatest racehorses I've ever seen. We now have the definitive story on this great horse and his colorful connections. In The Last Superhorse of the Twentieth Century, Peter Lee does a masterful job of telling the entire and real story of a racing star who overcame numerous obstacles. From beginning to end, it's a book that you cannot put down!
Editor of Horse Racing Nation
“Peter Lee has written a fast-paced and exciting look at the life and times of one of the modern era’s most impactful horses. Even though I chronicled The Bid’s career as a reporter, I learned a lot of things about the horse I never knew in this all-encompassing book.”
Breeder and Owner of 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom