August 2, 1978: Spectacular Bid Slops in the Tyro

sloppy track

Diana Robinson Photography

After winning his maiden and an allowance race, Spectacular Bid needed a step up in competition. So trainer Bud Delp entered Bid in the August 2, 1978 Tyro Stakes at Monmouth Park, a race with so many horses entered that it had two heats. Although the distance was the same as Bid’s first two races—five and a half furlongs—the competition in the Tyro would be better.

As luck would have it, the rains came on race day. It rained hard and long and made the track a complete mess, full of standing water and mud.

Concerned about Bid slipping and injuring himself, Delp considered scratching him from the race. But he instead opted to give the colt some experience while keeping him safe. Knowing he had an inexperienced jockey on a valuable horse, he instructed young jockey Ron Franklin to protect the horse, no matter what happened, and make sure Bid didn’t get hurt. The jockey was to sit on him and not make a move during the entire race.

It was the first time Spectacular Bid had raced in the slop; he was not used to the mud splashing him in the face and on the stomach. Racing in the second division of the stakes, Bid buck jumped and leaped over mud puddles, doing everything but run; it was almost comical.

He broke out of the gate last and was still twelve lengths behind halfway through the race. Franklin followed Delp’s instructions and sat on him, keeping him out of trouble and making sure he did not slip in the mud. The colt loafed to the finish line seven lengths back, but despite his slow foray through the slop, his natural speed still enabled him to capture fourth place out of eight horses behind the winner, Groton High.

It was disappointing, but considering the conditions, Bid’s behavior, and Franklin’s cautious ride, it was a respectable finish. Later, Delp would regret entering the horse in the race, saying he should have scratched him. But it was a learning experience for the colt, one he would remember later.