In his first race of 1980, the Malibu Stakes on January 5, Spectacular Bid ran away from the field, beating Flying Paster by 5 lengths.
Bid, the 3-10 favorite, broke from the gate in his usual lumbering style, and was last entering the clubhouse turn. Jockey Bill Shoemaker slowly inched Bid into fourth place, just behind Flying Paster. When the Paster made his move on the inside around the far turn, Bid saw his rival and went with him.
Once they entered the homestretch, Spectacular Bid took over the race, even though he had gone around the turn four horses wide. He bolted into the lead as if his feet were not even leaving the ground, almost like a trotter. The lead went to three lengths, then four, as Shoemaker hand-rode him almost the whole way, using his whip only once. In fact, Shoemaker had to slow him down to conserve the horse’s energy.
In winning the Malibu, Bid broke a track record for seven furlongs and was just one-fifth of a second off the world record. If Shoemaker had let Bid loose all the way to the finish line, he could have had a world record for the distance.