A gray colt of modest pedigree who was sold for only $37,000, Spectacular Bid proved doubters wrong during his career, winning 26 of 30 races. He won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in 1979 and was destined to become horse racing’s 12th Triple Crown winner before bad luck hit him on the morning of the Belmont Stakes – in the form of a safety pin.
A gregarious trainer of sub-par claiming horses in Maryland, Grover G. “Bud” Delp was given a new horse to train in 1978 and quickly came to realize that he had the horse of a lifetime. He was brash and cocky, always ready with a quip for the media, but was distrustful of the Kentucky establishment and protected his prized horse at all costs.
Ron Franklin, a 19-year-old jockey 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.
Harry Meyerhoff, a successful real estate broker, owned Spectacular Bid along with his wife, Teresa, and his son, Tom, under the stable of Hawksworth Farm. Being outsiders from Maryland, they were shunned by the horse racing establishment but continued racing Bid throughout his 4-year-old season, making him the richest Thoroughbred of all time.