July 19, 1980: Bid Breaks A Record in Chicago

Spectacular Bid had spent all of 1980 in California, but by summer trainer Bud Delp was getting concerned about the toll the hard surfaces at Santa Anita and Hollywood Park were taking on his colt.

So Bid went to Chicago to race in the $250,000 Washington Park Stakes at Arlington Park on July 19—formerly known as the Washington Park Handicap. Arlington Park officials wanted Bid badly and would do anything to get him there; knowing that a handicap might scare off Delp and company, officials dropped the handicap provision for only the second time in fifty-two runnings of the race. They also added a provision that if the winner of a Triple Crown race ran in the stakes, the purse would double from $125,000 to $250,000.

The weather in Chicago was not cooperating. The heat was unbearable in Chicago, but the forecast called for rain on the day of the race, and Delp planned to scratch Bid if the track was sloppy.

When race day came, however, there was only a sprinkle of rain—just enough to cool things down to a bearable eighty-four degrees. Delp looked over the track and said, “Damascus, kiss your track record goodbye.”

Five horses raced against Bid. Hold Your Tricks, sharing the second-highest weight at a modest 119 pounds, held a two-length lead down the backstretch with Bid settling for fourth place.

Jockey Bill Shoemaker swung Bid to the outside—just as former jockey Ron Franklin would have done—and as the pack approached the far turn, Bid felt the need to make his move. He drew even with Hold Your Tricks, then sped away with Shoemaker hand-riding him, winning by a remarkable ten lengths.

Damascus’s record, shared with Jatski, was now gone, replaced by a new track record, Bid’s seventh, in a time of 1:46 1/5 over one and one-eighth miles.

It was his eighth win in a row.

Dan Farley of the Thoroughbred Record said the performance “further confirmed Spectacular Bid’s status as one of the best American-breds ever and certainly the best—by many lengths—we have to offer this season.”