On February 3, 1980, Spectacular Bid stunned the horse racing world by winning the Strub Stakes at Santa Anita in 1:57 4/5, obliterating the world record set 30 years earlier by the great Noor and equaled by Quack in 1972.
Forty years later, the record still stands.
Here’s how good that 1:57 4/5 is:
- Secretariat holds the Kentucky Derby record and Churchill Downs track record for the same distance at 1:59 2/5 – 1 3/5 seconds slower than Bid’s time. Given the rough calculation that 1 length equals 1/5 of a second, Spectacular Bid would have beaten Secretariat by eight lengths that day.
- The performance of Flying Paster, who finished 3 1/4 lengths behind Spectacular Bid that day, would have set a track record.
- Bid’s record is the sixth-oldest North American record still standing. Two of the older records (Kelso at 2 miles, Swaps at 1 5/8 miles) are for longer distances, which are rarely run anymore.
- According to ESPN.com, only 11 horses have won 1 1/4-mile stakes races in 1:58 3/5 or faster since 1946. Only one has been within the last 14 years – the 1991 Suburban won by In Excess (whose time was still 2/5 of a second slower than Bid’s).
That’s not good. That’s spectacular.