January 19, 1980: Bid Wins San Fernando

Only three horses dared to compete against Spectacular Bid in the San Fernando Stakes on Saturday, January 19, 1980. However, it had rained all week, and trainer Bud Delp considered scratching Bid if the rains continued. But the track was in good condition when race time came around.

Once again, Flying Paster was his main competition, and this time, Bid went off as an incredible 1–98 favorite—the shortest odds on a horse since Man o’ War commanded 1–100 in 1920.

Bid broke slowly, with pacesetters Relaunch and Timbo taking control of the race, running up a six-length lead over Flying Paster heading into the clubhouse turn. Bid was another length back. In the backstretch, the two horses expanded their lead to ten lengths over the favorites, with Bid taking over third place by two lengths over Flying Paster.

It was time. The 4-year-old gray colt bolted forward and challenged Relaunch and Timbo. The move was so sudden, so quick, that writers in the press box wondered if jockey Bill Shoemaker had gone toward the front too soon and was chasing a fast pacesetter as Franklin had done in the Belmont.

Bid passed Timbo with ease and raced neck and neck with Relaunch around the far turn, getting a breather after his lightning move. Then, as he had done in so many races, he found another gear and turned it up a notch, taking the lead by a neck, then a length, then two lengths.

Here came The Paster once again. As if he had been shot out of a gun, Flying Paster flew past a tiring Relaunch and took aim at Bid, trailing him by a head and running with momentum. The crowd roared as it got to see the true rivalry that had only been hinted at for the past eighteen months.

When Shoemaker saw The Paster out of the corner of his eye, he panicked and began whipping Spectacular Bid furiously, and Bid responded; once again, he had something in reserve.

Flying Paster stuck stubbornly to him, but in the final sixteenth, the race was no longer in doubt. Shoemaker held Bid up again by the time he reached the finish line. The winning margin was a length and a half, even though it had seemed closer. Relaunch finished in third, fifteen lengths behind The Paster.